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How to roast 45 human beings alive

India tops the world in gruesome road accidents and Tamil Nadu tops in the nation. The recent Volvo bus fire accident at Mehabubnagar near Hyderabad has yet again pointed to the lack of safety concerns.

The centre for consumer education, research, teaching, training and testing (Concert), a Chennai based public charitable trust, blames the oil companies for not increasing the flashpoint of petrochemical products. “The oil companies are not ready to change their refinery processes and hence such accidents,” stresses R Desikan, founder-trustee of CONCERT and the Consumers Association of India (CAI). Flashpoint is the minimum temperature at which the vapour above fuel catches fire. In India the flashpoint is at 35 degrees while it is more than 60 degrees in developed countries. In a tropical country, this flashpoint easily triggers explosion.

“We have taken it up with the government to increase the flash point to 66 and make it a mandatory for oil companies to follow suit,” said N Gopalaswami, trustee and former Chief Election Commissioner. Concert also plans to fight this out in a case with the leading bus manufacturer, Volvo, on the lack of emergency measures in the bus. R Santhanam, IAS (Retd.,), trustee, pointed to the lack of vehicle testing centres. Tamil Nadu has 2.5 million vehicles and they are rarely tested for road worthiness. Such accidents can be avoided with prior care.

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