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CNG blasts – Avoidable disasters

May 27, 2013

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.