We have read reports about fire which erupted at the four storey building Gokul Nivas located at Kalbadevi and its consequent collapse causing considerable hardship and losses to human lives. The fire began from the electricity meter room on the ground floor and spread quickly towards the building which is more than 50 years old. According to residents the building was undergoing repairs when the fire broke out and the entire structure was gutted within few hours. There were hurdles during the fire extinguishing process due to cylinder blast.
The fire officials have declared the building unsafe for habitation and MHADA has begun repairing it. People are prohibited from entering inside the building until the arrival of audit report. The residents have been temporarily shifted to MHADA building located at Prabhadevi. Even though Kalbadevi has a large number of commercial and residential buildings it lacks a fire station. It’s a congested area located in south Mumbai and has to depend on other areas for firefighting work.
It is very important for a police officer and BMC officer to take a monthly round of such congested areas where old buildings exist. They must ask the owners to remove excessive flammable material and check the soundness of the electrical wiring in each building. This needs some effort and discipline and that is why we should seek the assistance of Army. Army should also be involved in General Administration activities of BMC for making the employees more efficient and disciplined.
There have been reports in media about cheap quality boots being supplied to firemen. They should understand that the firemen must have electrically insulated boots. I myself approved one such maker some years back when I was in a position of authority. Generally BMC confines its activity to issuing tenders and then accepting the lowest one without any technical evaluation.
Only firemen cannot extinguish the fire. It is necessary to involve local youth in firefighting activities by imparting training to them which is vital for saving lives during emergency. RSS and Shiv Sena can enlist some volunteers to undergo training in fire prevention and fire fighting, besides other voluntary organizations. All BMC employees must undergo firefighting and elementary first aid training.
The government has failed to think about constructing the parking lots for taxis, private vehicles and tempos as a result of which the movement of vehicular traffic is restricted thereby hampering rescue and relief operations. Policemen work under tremendous stress. A lot has been written recently about Police suicides in media. In a recent brick throwing incident, besides punishing the police man, it should also be probed whether the lady in question was carrying the children safely on her bike or not.