The cylinder blast of a water tanker in Goregaon on Friday, which killed an 18-year-old boy, exposed a dangerous situation that is developing in the city’s public transport sector that predominantly runs on CNG.
A 2002 Bombay high court order which puts stringent conditions pertaining to safety of vehicles running on CNG gets flouted, like in the case of the ill-fated Goregaon tanker, because the order applies only to goods transport vehicles registered in the RTOs of Mumbai. The rules don’t apply to a large number of vehicles registered in Thane and beyond.
According to transport officials, the tanker which belongs to Shahapur taluk was registered in a Thane RTO thus taking it out of the purview of the Bombay high court’s CNG safety stipulations.
The Bombay High Court had ordered that all public transport vehicles which are over eight-years-old would compulsorily have to shift to CNG in order to reduce pollution. It also said that all such vehicles would have to be scrapped eight years after the CNG kit is fitted.
The cylinder of the water tanker was fitted in 2003 and as per the order, the vehicle should have been scrapped in 2011. However, the Thane RTO certified the vehicle as roadworthy in February this year.
Investigators are trying to find out whether the mandatory re-testing of the CNG cylinder was carried out after it completed five years. As per rules, any vehicle that does not get its CNG kit re-tested within this period should not be provided gas at any authorised fuel station.
“We are sitting on a time bomb with thousands of vehicles in the city running on unsafe CNG kits. Authorities should come down heavily or else there might be many more such disasters and innocent people will lose their lives,” said Thampi Kurian, secretary, Mumbai Rickshawmen’s Union.