Andhra Pradesh police today said they had filed a chargesheet in the case related to the ghastly accident in which 45 people were killed after a private bus caught fire in Mahbubnagar district on October 30, 2013.
The Crime Investigation Department which probed the case had earlier said the faulty design of the Volvo buses was one of the factors that led to the fire.
The bus, operated by Jabbar Travels, was en route to Hyderabad from Bangalore when it caught fire after hitting a culvert on the National Highway 44 near Palem in Mahabubnagar. The deceased included 19 software engineers.
“So far ten persons have been arrested and a chargesheet was filed on May 7 before the Magistrate in Mahabubnagar,” Additional Director General of Police (CID) T Krishna Prasad today said in a statement.
A detailed 400 pages report compiled by technical experts suggesting preventive measures to avoid such incidents in future would be sent to the Union Government, he said.
The CID had earlier blamed negligence of the driver, faulty construction of the road, and design of the Volvo bus for the incident. Volvo company has however rejected the contention that the design of the bus was responsible for the fire.
According to the investigators, the bus’ main fuel tank (with 300 litre capacity) is located too close to the battery compartment. After the bus ran into the culvert, the iron pipe of its railing hit the bus, which caused sparks in the battery compartment, igniting the fuel, Prasad said in the statement. “The pipe (of the railing) 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. The tanks were made up of hard bold plastic while the floor of the bus was not steel but of plywood material and rubber matting.
“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,” the statement added.
While the permitted number of seats is only 43+1+1, the owner and the operator added five more seats. Thus the bus manufacturer (Volvo Buses India Ltd), the bus owners Diwakar Road Lines) and the operator (Jabbar Travels) all contributed to making the bus dangerous for passengers, it said.
Those arrested and named in the chargesheet include owner of Diwakar Road Lines J C Uma Reddy, its manager Yaseen Abdul Raheman, bus driver Feroze Basha and one of the owners of Jabbar Travels, Shakeen Jabbar, besides its employees.
They have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Motor Vehicles Act.