Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, December 8
A massive fire in Delhi’s Anaj Mandi this morning which claimed 43 lives could be a wake-up call for the MC as well as the administration. The interior parts of the city where goods worth several crores are sold and purchased on a daily basis have no proper fire safety arrangements.
A visit to the interior parts of the city, including Dal Bazaar, Meena Bazaar, Saban Bazaar, Kesar Ganj Mandi, Gur Mandi, Mali Ganj and Falahi Bazaar, revealed that there are no fire safety arrangements in most of these congested areas. Streets are so narrow that it is simply impossible for fire engines to move on.
Starting from lights to stationery items, accessories, jewellery, garments, blankets, etc, all kinds of trading is done in these areas where the width of roads is maximum 7-8 feet. A small spark is enough to take the shape of a major fire in these congested markets where ground floor is either used for business or small-time manufacturing, and the first and upper floors serve as residence.
A shopkeeper of Mali Ganj, when asked if he had got any firefighting equipment, replied: “We have fire extinguishers but those have been sent for repairs”.
President of Mali Ganj Traders Association Rakesh Puri said God has been kind till now. “We have arranged for small submersible pumps. In case a fire breaks out, we can use these pumps to douse flames before firefighters arrive. These areas are so congested that it is not easy for fire engines to reach here in time. Besides, most shopkeepers have kept fire extinguishers too,” said Puri.
President of Phalahi Bazaar Hosiery Association Pardeep Thapar said fire engines could hardly reach these narrow streets. “Look at the congested streets, not even small vehicles can move on here. But life goes on like this and God has been kind,” he added.
New Madhopuri, Sunder Nagar and Vait Bazaar are the other areas where small units are operating in residential areas. Driving fire engines on these streets is a Herculean task. Akalgarh Market is another such congested market where stocks are kept in corridors, blocking escape routes in case of fire.
Congress leader Parminder Mehta said he had written to the authorities concerned on the issue, but to no avail. He said recently, there were two fire incidents in congested areas where fire engines could not reach due to narrow streets. In the areas such as Katra Nauhariya, Thapar Mohalla, Bhardwaj Mohalla, Daresi Road, Bagh Khazanchiyan and Professor Bali Street, illegal buildings sans fire NOCs are mushrooming, he added.
“Even if there are fire extinguishers, these are hardly operational. If a fire breaks out in a building, it will spread rapidly destroying everything around,” said Mehta.
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