Concerned by number of rising incidents of fire in vehicles carrying CNG kits after purchase, the Road Safety Society International Road Federation (IRF) has approached the Union Ministry of Surface Transport and Highways.
The agency has recommended strict technical requirements, including digital monitoring system, to be implemented immediately to minimise chances of any mishaps.
The Geneva-based agency’s Honorary President KK Kapila said, "The IRF played a key role with the Ministry of Surface Transport and Highways in bringing the latest global safety regulations, including crash tests for vehicles in the country. The Ministry has worked to create a legal and regulatory environment to protect human life. European crash test regulations, motor vehicle modification act, airbag rule, seatbelt reminder, ABS are examples of this. On the same lines, the Ministry now needs to issue strict rules and guidelines regarding retro-fitment of CNG kits in vehicles."
He also said, “Today, over 18 lakh light CNG vehicles including passenger vehicles and light commercial vehicles are racing on the roads and 60-65 per cent of them have CNG kits installed later i.e. retrofit."
Explaining the issue with randomly fitted CNG kits in vehicles, Kapila said often the gas tanks, fuel lines and electrical equipment installed in vehicles are not always built for CNG. He also alleged that manufacturers of CNG kits are selling unapproved CNG fuel kits.
Kapila said a CNG kit usually increases the weight of a car. Fuel lines and electrical wires are added to the vehicle even if it does not have space to fit the CNG kit. After installing the kit, there is no check to make sure that the brakes are working as before, safety in crash test matches with results before fitting a CNG kit, ensure the fuel lines not pass close to the battery and other technical aspects of safety are working as they should.
"We know that the government and the private sector have used the Indian Automotive Research Association (ARAI) International Center for Automotive Technology (ICAT) spending thousands of crores of rupees to set up testing institutes like Trial Tracks (Netrax) so that these tests can be done to save human lives. But it is a matter of concern that in the process of making profits, vehicle companies are not taking care of safety of occupants as they compromise the safety rules by putting in CNG kit vehicles that do not comply with the retrofitting rules."
Kapila also alleged that substandard kits are fitted in vehicles as the sample acceptance rules are not strictly complied with at the RTO level. Kapila said, CNG is a clean fuel and should be encouraged if it is not a threat to the safety of the occupants and people on the road.