Very little elbow room for buses led to four of them being engulfed by fire

Even as initial investigation of Saturday's fire at the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) Central Workshop in Shanthinagar here that gutted four buses discounts sabotage, the authorities have found that the workshop was being maintained in a shabby manner.

Sources in the BMTC told The Hindu that investigation has just commenced and it will take about two weeks to know the exact reason for the fire which destroyed the high-end buses. The damage is estimated to be over Rs. 2 crore.

What went wrong?

Preliminary investigation have revealed that the workshop lacked a fire fighting system and that security personnel were ignorant about what to do in such emergencies.

There were piles of scrapped buses dumped in one corner. The fire would have been much worse had it spread to them. Old buses that have been junked are still kept on the workshop premises awaiting finalising tender formalities for their disposal, the sources said. As a result, buses awaiting their annual overhaul as well as to be junked, were parked in a tight squeeze with very little space in between. This caused the fire to spread quickly to the buses.

It was the immediate intervention by the Fire and Emergency Services personnel which saved other buses, the sources said. However, it was a battle for the firemen hauling the water hoses as they had no space to move in between the buses.

Red tape

The long delay in refurbishing buses increases the pressure on the workshop. Every year, buses need a complete overhaul, including a fresh coat of paint, to get fitness certificate from the Transport Department. BMTC has another workshop at K.R. Puram but it is not as big.

Curiously, when the firemen rushed to the workshop, the security personnel at the gate reportedly did not allow the fire tenders inside. Only after they were warned of the possible consequences did they let the firemen in, the sources said.

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