T'was a tragedy waiting to happen
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Nov 12: Ramshackle godowns, cheek-by-jowl stores and cramped, rrow lanes - the inferno was a tragedy waiting to happen at Fancy Bazar - the oldest and biggest market in the Northeast.
And when the blaze broke out at the market on Wednesday night, the buzz is again on non-functiol safety measures in the congested market area thronged by thousands every day.
Though the first fire tender reached within two minutes after getting the call, allegations are rife that there was idequate water in the vehicle, leading to a chaotic situation. The second fire tender allegedly took a longer route - instead of SRCB Road, it went through SS Road.
Haphazard and unregulated parking of small vehicles and carts made the access to the fire site difficult.
Regular inspections on safety measures are done by different agencies and reports submitted to the government, but Wednesday's incident exposed that neither were any precautiory measures enforced in the area nor does the administration have any modern fire-fighting apparatus worth the me.
The ground floors of the stores in New Market were used as godowns - most of which were cramped and void of any ventilation.
"Most of the stores did not have any fire extinguishers. Moreover the roads are very rrow, making it difficult for the fire fighters to enter. That is why the damage was so extensive," said ADGP (fire services) AP Raut.
There were also allegations that the fire services lacked modern equipments to deal with such incidents.
"The fire services could not douse the fire in even 24 hours. This shows their failure. They lack modern equipments. What's the use of raising such forces?" said Santosh Kumar, president of the Marwari Yuba Mancha.
A local trader, Nekib Imam Saikia rued that the fire services had never organized any awareness camp in the area.
"There was very little water in some fire tenders. Even when we showed them the fire sites, the fire tenders could not target the areas. None of the firemen were wearing masks and as such they could not go near the smoke," said Vijay Kumar Jain, a textile merchant in the area. In the aftermath of the incident, the fire services today urged the government to procure more hydraulic fire and rescue platforms and other modern equipments. The State currently has just one hydraulic platform.