HYDERABAD: CID report says faulty design of the bus was the major cause of accident
The Andhra Pradesh CID’s final report on the NH 44 Volvo bus tragedy, which killed 45 passengers, has held several parties – from bus manufacturer, owner, bus driver and National Highway Authorities India – responsible for the accident.
The CID submitted its report after a multi-pronged investigation into the incident that occurred near Palem in Mahbubnagar district. The 45 victims included 19 software engineers, three disabled members of a family, a child aged 2 years and a pregnant lady.
The report said bus manufacturers, (Volvo Buses India Ltd), bus owners, (Diwakar road Lines) and the bus operator, (Jabbar Travels), were all responsible for the incident as they ignored the safety of the passengers.
It said that on the fateful day (October 30, 2013) the driver escaped unhurt and made no efforts to save the passengers. At about 5 am, the Volvo bus (AP02-TA-0963) “driven recklessly” by accused Fairoz Basha, dashed Culvert No 129/1 located in the median near Palem.
The CID, which has visited the Volvo bus body building facility in Bangalore, found that the design of the bus is such that the main fuel tank (300 litres capacity) is located close to the battery compartment. The sparks from the battery compartment ignited the fuel in the main fuel tank, which is located between the front two tyres as per the design. Two auxiliary tanks of 150 litres each are located behind the front tyres. Hence, within a few minutes, the main fuel tank and the two auxiliary fuels were ablaze.
The iron pipe that was on the top of the culvert (railing) broke and pierced the main fuel tank while its other end broke through the floor of the bus. Thus, the pipe acted like a capillary and spilled the fuel into the bus. The tanks were made of hard plastic, the floor of the bus was not made of steel but plywood material and rubber matting.
Most of the interior part of the Volvo bus was made of PVC material and vinyl mats, which are highly inflammatory substances. The emergency exit doors were blocked by passenger’s seats, in violation of CMV rules.
While the permitted numbers of seats are only 43+1+1, the owner and the operator added five more seats to get more revenue. The last sofa, which is meant for the second driver to sleep, was converted into seats.
The culvert parapet wall had encroached into the alignment of the two-lane carriage way (leading to Hyderabad) and created unwarranted obstruction on the high-speed lane.
So far, 10 accused have been arrested and charge sheets have been filed on them on May 5 before the JFCM court at Mahbubnagar.
A detailed report consolidated by technical experts (containing 400 pages) is being sent to the Central government to take further measures to prevent such accidents.