'Faulty' Volvo design led to fire mishap: AP CID investigators

Written by PTI | Hyderabad | Updated: Feb 27 2014, 01:48am hrs
Volvo bus'CID's finding shows that there is a 'defect' in the design of Volvo buses which do not make them road worthy.' (AP)
The Andhra Pradesh police Crime Investigation Department (CID) said here today that "faulty" design of Volvo buses is among the three major causes for a fire which engulfed a luxury bus and claimed 45 lives on October 30 last year, near Palem in Mahabubnagar district.

"The CID's finding shows that there is a 'defect' in the design of Volvo buses which do not make them road worthy. This is our finding and we will write to the Government of India about it. We will shortly file a chargesheet. Volvo as a company has also been made an accused in the case," Additional Director General of Police (CID) T Krishna Prasad told reporters here today.

He also cited negligence of the driver, faulty engineering of the road, as well as faulty design of the Volvo bus, as among the three major factors responsible for the incident.

In the accident which occurred on October 30 last year, 45 passengers, including 19 software engineers were charred to death after a Volvo bus run by a private operator Jabbar Travels went up in flames, after hitting a culvert on National Highway 44 near Palem in Andhra Pradesh.

According to CID investigations, the design of the Volvo bus is such that one main fuel tank of 300 litres is very close to the battery compartment, which tends to be in close proximity to the road on the right hand side of the bus.

After the bus hit the culvert, the iron pipe on the culvert railing broke and pierced into the bus, due to which sparks emanated from the battery compartment, igniting the main fuel tank, which was made of plastic, Prasad explained.

"This pipe acted like a capillary and spilled the fuel into the bus. The entire interior of the bus was made of PVC material, which is highly inflammatory. Emergency exit doors were blocked by passenger seats, in violation of rules. The owner and the operator had altered the interior design to accommodate more passengers, to maximise revenue," he said.

The bus manufacturer Volvo, bus owners Diwakar Road Lines and bus operator Jabbar Travels, had all made the bus dangerous to human life, he said, adding that investigations showed that the owners of Jabbar Travels and Diwakar Road Lines also created false documents of lease agreements on different dates.

Meanwhile, in a related development, the Andhra Pradesh CID which probed the ghastly Volvo bus mishap, arrested two more persons in the case today, including the owner of Diwakar Road Lines J C Uma Reddy and its manager Yaseen Abdul Raheman, he said, adding that during investigation, the CID added 14 sections under the Indian Penal Code and 16 sections under the Motor Vehicles Act, besides six sections under Motor Vehicles Act Rules.

A total of nine people, including bus driver Feroze Basha and one of the owners of Jabbar Travels, Shakeen Jabbar, besides its employees have been arrested, so far, he said.

The AP CID adopted a multi-disciplinary approach to examine criminal culpability of bus manufacturer Volvo, the Road Transport Authority in Hyderabad and Bangalore, the National Highway Authority of India as well as national highway contractors, he said.