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CNG blasts – Avoidable disasters


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Last week’s tragedy involving the death of 14 school children in Gujrat once again raised the question of incorrect usage of CNG kits installed in vehicles.

The initial inquiry showed that the blaze was apparently caused by a spark in electric wires of the vehicle.

The fire then spread swiftly because there was a petrol bottle in the van and it was connected to the engine’s fuel line.

The Gujrat tragedy is not the first or last such accident. There have been many in the past, mainly because of the sub-standard CNG kits being installed in different vehicles – kits which don’t meet specifications, but are produced nonetheless for the sole purpose of minting money. The other problem, such as that specific to the Gujrat tragedy, is the installation of a plastic can  or bottle inside the vehicle connected to its engine’s fuel line. This is a dangerous innovation that entails the risk of any spark in the engine causing a fire.

Each time a serious fatal incident takes place; there is much talk of cracking down on illegal workshops that fit in CNG kits without any expertise. But unfortunately, soon enough, as the problem fades from public memory, so do the solutions.

If these accidents, which are completely avoidable, are to stop, some serious steps need to be taken to fix the problem. It is also important for the government and for the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to get involved.

Attempts have been made to do this in the past – a task force was created to tackle the issue in 2011, but unfortunately such initiatives have largely failed.

What measures do you think should be taken to ensure that the Gujrat tragedy never occurs again? How can it be ensured that all actors involved – the consumers, the drivers, the owners of vehicles, CNG kit providers and license authorities all act in a responsible manner? invites its readers to share its views. 

Comments (28) Closed

salahuddin May 27, 2013 12:29pm
govt can overcome this problem by making just one serious effort, that is through registration of CNG vehicles. just like licensing or registering the vehicles, govt should do it through respective traffic police offices of the district and tehsil. they can be equipped with one technician and a normal traffic police officer can have the common know how about CNG fitting and can demand the receipt for authorised dealer. all CNG vehicles be issued with coded sticker and after deadline of three months all CNG stations should be bounded by law to issue CNG to only thhose vehicles who have that coded sticker.
Adeel May 27, 2013 12:43pm
Implementation of Strict vehicle laws can prevent such incidents.
AR May 27, 2013 04:01pm
knowing that our state exists only for the benefit of elites, I urge parents to make sure to contract a van/vehicle which is in good condition. One way to make sure that it is really safe, could be a maintenance/repair certificate from an authorized dealer/good workshop in the area.
Arshad Mahmood May 27, 2013 04:13pm
As mentioned in the write up, this is not for the first time that such incident has occured, we witnessed several such incidents in the past couple of year. This particular incident was also tragic as it resulted in the merciless killing of 14 children including 3 siblings. It also shows that how vulnerable hundreds of thousands of our children are who travel to their schools in such sub standard CNG sylanders. Now the question is who is responsible? Driver of the school van or this system where no one taking responsibility for ensuring minimum standards related to the use of CNG kits are followed? Will the Government of Punjab respond to this situation not merely by announcing a few hundred thousands of rupees for families of the innocent children who were deprived of their precious lives BUT by ensuring proper legislation and implementation of the standards particularly for the use of CNG Kits in school vans and public transport? I hope the Chief Minister will make this priority number one and will make this case an example for other provinces as well.
Zubair naseer May 27, 2013 04:23pm
The civilised and just action to take is to find out the seller and maker do the sub standard kit and hang them. They Are clearly guilty of wilful fraud, endangering lives and man slaughter. Any nation that respects and values human lives would ensure maximum punishment to these merchants
Hasnain May 27, 2013 11:59pm
Simple: learn only one thing from the "Goras", instead of believing in "jugaar" , believe in "diligence".
Dr Jamil May 28, 2013 04:46am
I propose following: Strict policy on the licencing of the CNG kits, installation mechanics and regulation. Regular checks on the vehicles by the government agencies and removing corruption from the risky affair. Public awareness about the need to get the cng kit repaired and maintained on a regular basis. Vehicle mainatainnace checks by governmental agencies. Heavy fines. Like cancellation of licences. Long term planning to reserve gas only for for household use and electricity generation. Public mass transit system (cost effective and cheap and futuristic) hence Less reliance on personal vehicles. Buses vehicles where children exclusively travel need to be given special attention and CNG should be prohbited from them. Child seat belts in vehicles. (Road traffic accidents kill more children than CNG).
Dr Jamil May 28, 2013 04:48am
people would make that sticker any way
concerned May 28, 2013 05:27am
Vehicles are meant to run on fuel not CNG. it is an appeal to the government to ban CNG so innocent lives can be saved and as well as to use the natural gas in more productive way.
Farooq Ali May 28, 2013 05:54am
We should not expect every thing to be corrected by the Govt, but should do it by cooperation and use of commonsense GOD has gifted us with capable engineers and technicians and their help can solve the problem. Please see following proposals. 1. Every school van must have one or two Emergency Exit doors, the door should not have a seat adjacent to it and be marked with red color and can be opened with a kick ,button or lever. 2 The driver, cleaner and elder children from among the group traveling in the van can be trained for emergency situations and use of door.. 3.The van should also have an alarm or bell or pre recorded tape to be used in case of emergency. 4 Training to do all above can be given by teachers and parents or by an agency. 5 The van should have a uniform unique color to be decided by regulators and marked in bold letters as a school van. 6 The best way to save life in case of fire is evacuation and escape, the trainers can also conduct mock exercises for this at suitable intervals.
Iftikhar Nadeem May 28, 2013 06:36am
Dear , Really it is a sad tragedy ,and it will continue till the effective law not made you aware all these occurrence are in Public Vehicles and authority who issued fitness certificate should also be panelized. Unfortunately, we unable to make law for lawless of law enforcement authority. We just pray for betterment
Dr Jamil May 28, 2013 07:29am Had we done something afte the Kalar Kahar disaster where so many children had died due to ill maintained vehicle we could have avoided the accidents like in Gujrat. We can still take steps to prevent future accidents. Is some one listening in the governemnt.
mohib May 28, 2013 07:33am
Its a sad tragedy. but we cannot avoid such accidents because we live in a country who is controlled by the corrupt persons on the earth. only way to avoid such accidents is to leave this country for ever.
Murad Iqbal May 28, 2013 08:52am
Dont say its not last such incident, at least say we hope its last, or God forbid. I know you didn't mean it, but just wanted to say we should choose words correctly.
azhar May 28, 2013 09:52am
Although problem is complicated solution isn't. Only two steps are required, drafting of appropriate legislation (or updating the existing one) about school children transport and getting these wealthy businessmen to invest (its highly profitable). Take example from Turkey or any other EU country. Separate system exist for school children. The vehicles are not used for any other purpose.
munsif44MUNSIF ALI May 28, 2013 10:07am
In our country , mostly untrained and unqualified people deal with machinery. You can go to any automobile workshop, you will find them highly careless in keeping any documentation or machinery diagram. A little mistake can cause machinery break-down. I was sitting in mazda commuter bus in karachi in back seat. I lit a cigarrette, and the conductor immediately told me that there is CNG gas cylinder under the back seat. I immediately threw the cigarrette out of window. In another matter of driving suzuki car with CNG gas cylinder with an employer, I found metal gas pipe line going through a small hole adjacent the spair tyre in metal sheet, upto the carbeurator. When the car would start, the gas pipe line would vibrate touching the cutting edges of hole. It was a matter of caution, I advised my employer to get a rubber wrapped around the metal gas pipe or around the hole having cutting edge. but he did not care much. Where as in the earlier case I advised the conductor to wrap thick cotton cloth around the nozzle of cylinder and keep it wet with water. The CNG gas pipe line remains under the floor of vehicle to reach carbeurator. The electronic engineers can develop a metalic sensor wire to go along with the pipeline, so that , in case of any sudden leakage , it could caution the auto-vehicle driver , and he should immediately turn the knob of cyclinder to off position. when any combustible thing is brought near to a pressurized gas, we can hear light explosions, which you can experience in your kitchen if you have turned the knob of your stove to highest position of Gas flow, or at the shops of gas welding. Nowadays electric switches are being used in auto-vehicles in order to shift from gas to petrol, or petrol to gas, where as from my point of view , if you want to use your car on a petrol for a while , manually turn the knob of your gas cylinder to off position. and daily check the nozzle by putting water on it. however gas cyclinder has its demerits. while serving at workshop of BHP gas company in tehsil Johi, of district Dadu in the month of june, 2012 under intense heat and scorching sun, I advised the personnel to wrap the cylinders with thick cloth and keep them wet. After issueing this instruction, one day I heard a light explosion and the nozzle of cylinder went into the air at about 3 pm, anyway hoping my experiences will be beneficial to readers. however using gas cyclinder extreme safety measures should be taken. MUNSIF ALI 0923313524436 BMCHS, Karachi, pakistan
yawar May 28, 2013 10:24am
the solution is simple : for school : the parents shall ask the principal to check the transport system for carrying school childern and should pay a little higher than normal and urge them not to have CNG cylinder in school busses. Coded sticker is not the solution. In pakistan everything can be made by forgery. These days in 100 rs 10000 stickers can be made. for Public transport - the one who is called Addaee walaa should check the fitness of all the vehicles that come to his station because every transport comes through stations. CNG is not dangerous we by our practices are making it dangerous ....have we ever heard about explosion in private cars due to CNG cylinder? no because we care about our car check its cylinders and mobil oil on a regular basis. Similarly we shall also adhere to safety standards for using CNG. CNG is being used in many develop countries and there is no explosion in them. Because they have awareness and they know that by adhering to safety rules they are protecting their lives . Inspecting the CNG cylinder including its connecting valves on regular basis i.e after every 3 months ( will cost only about 500rs ) .....install kits only from registered workshop rather than from unauthorised workshop to save a few bucks. these were suggestion from my side.
yawar May 28, 2013 10:29am
The blast occured because there was leakage of CNG in bus.and leakage checking is not the problem of STATE but it shall have to be checked by driver through mechanic. why blame only CNG ? Isn't it unjustified? one of you rightly said that having plastic bottle of gasoline connected with tank is also the cause of blast.......why not ban plastic industry for making such bottles? banning is not the option. regulation is solution. arms are for self defence as well.Their use depends upon person who is using it and for what purpose....arms are using by our army and police but also being used by street gangsters... why not ban arm industry?
maznani May 28, 2013 11:39am
A van filled with the innocent little children who were in their way to school in Gujrat have blasted due to CNG substandard kit resulting the 17 innocent children along with the teacher have been burnt to death. A very tragic incident though not first time but like always the incident has left so many question to be answered. This is not first time that such fatal accident has occurred rather it has become routine and the news of such nature come from round the country and therefore Pakistan has become one of the world
Liaqat May 28, 2013 01:42pm
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shaique ali May 28, 2013 01:56pm
there shuold not be a short cut - My messsage to Peoples of Pakistan - Just dont save money to use CNG. Use Patrol. Cut short your day to day activity like going into Valima and Wedding, Birthday, Teeja, Chaliiiiiswaaaaan parties and private parties and others. That way save money for nation and go on patrol and dont need to carry gas tanks into CARs and busses. Nation need to wake up do help the poors for an uplift them.
raj May 28, 2013 05:40pm
I love the Suzuki example! So we get another unqualified mechanic to install rubber or a thick wet cloth. And then when the rubber gets cut by the very same sharp edge or the water dries - BOOOOOM! When will we Asians learn that safety is a commitment to life, not an accessory to be discarded - or an accessory to murder in this case.
G.HOON May 28, 2013 11:24pm
fuel stations should only sell diesel & petrol ,all gas should be supplied to power generation & industry, cancell all gas filling station licences now.
Adnan May 29, 2013 02:59am
I agree with Dr Jamil, Strict policy on Licencing of CNG kits and CNG installation mechanics, Installation and annual checks compulsary by CNG licenced mechanics only. It should be mandatory for each CNG vehicle to clearly display annual check stickers (with CNG Licenced mechanical licecence number) on their windscreen. It is not easy at this stage but is do-able and not impossible.
YOUSUF HUSSAIN May 29, 2013 05:30am
In Public transport,CNG should not allowed
Ashfaq Bhatti May 29, 2013 07:17am
Since it is the failure of already existing government bodies to check these vehicles, who seem to be hand in glove with such reckless operators, the only way which can prevent to stop these incidents is awareness amongst commuters themselves. They should not travel in such vans/buses and force them to fix their vehicles. A long term campaign from media, NGOs and other concerned citizens is needed. Moreover, we are just talking about vans, we need to highlight ALL such public transports who are violating security measures. Now a days, it is commonly seen that cng rickshaw operators also hang a pepsi bottle filled with petrol, being used as a makeshift petrol tank. Everyone, including the traffic sargents, who are other wise busy in minting money, closing their eyes on these rickshaw operators. Perhaps they are waiting for some incident to occur for opening their eyes.
Najeeb Nayyer May 29, 2013 08:35am
Apparently it was not a CNG cylinder blast, it was a case of large quantity of petrol inside the vehicle for manual feed to engine, and another container for fuel for school's generator. Agreed that CNG kits, improperly installed and uncared for, can be an even bigger cause of such tragedies.
Syed Iqbal Ahmad May 29, 2013 10:25am
For god sake do not compromise on safety. Do not improvise and use equipment other than it is intended/designed/manufactured.