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NEW DELHI : The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) will appoint an independent consultant to probe two recent instances of electric scooter fires in the country, people familiar with the plans told Mint.

Last week, two separate cases of EV fires were reported from Vellore in Tamil Nadu, and Pune in Maharashtra, involving e-scooters from electric vehicle brands Okinawa and Ola Electric, respectively.

According to the people cited above, an external consultant will be brought in by the MoRTH secretariat to conduct an investigation.

In the incident in Vellore, where two people lost their lives, Okinawa said the fire was caused due to improper charging by the customer, who had purchased the scooter just two days before the event.

“In a recent tragic incident in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore, a man and his daughter died after their e-bike went up in flames. As per the police's statement, the user plugged the charger of his bike into an old socket in the entrance to his house and went to sleep on Friday night. An electrical short circuit led to the e-bike going up in flames. The police state that the socket might be an old one with less voltage capacity to charge an e-bike," sources in the company said.

The company said, “As per credible sources, the media, and the local authorities, it is an evident case of a short circuit due to negligence in charging the vehicle. We will wait for the complete investigation to unfold". 

“This particular case has further brought to light how important it is for users to understand the correct usage and charging guidelines for EVs. As a responsible brand, time and again, we have been coming forward and taking a lot of initiatives to create awareness and educate our customers on the proper usage of electric 2-wheelers and about the possible hazards that they could experience in case of any negligence in taking proper care of the battery of the vehicle," it added.

Ola Electric, too, said that the company was investigating the cause of fire. 

The company said, “We are aware of an incident in Pune that happened with one of our scooters and are investigating to understand the root cause and will share more updates in the next few days. We're in constant touch with the customer who is absolutely safe. Vehicle safety is of paramount importance at Ola and we are committed to the highest quality standards in our products. We take this incident seriously and will take appropriate action and share more in the coming days."

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