MP: Blaze in factories exposes chinks in firefight armour | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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MP: Blaze in factories exposes chinks in firefight armour

A major fire that broke out in Hanumanganj in Bhopal on Monday has brought to light once again poor condition of the state’s fire services, which need urgent makeover to be fighting fit given population increase and pace of urbanisation.

bhopal Updated: Oct 26, 2016 09:01 IST
It took almost eight hours for 35 fire engines to douse flames in two plastic factories worth over Rs 1 crore in Hanumanganj area on Monday.
It took almost eight hours for 35 fire engines to douse flames in two plastic factories worth over Rs 1 crore in Hanumanganj area on Monday. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT photo)

A major fire that broke out in Hanumanganj in Bhopal on Monday has brought to light once again poor condition of the state’s fire services, which need urgent makeover to be fighting fit given population increase and pace of urbanisation.

It took almost eight hours for 35 fire engines to douse flames in two plastic factories worth over Rs 1 crore.

Local people said the fire could have been controlled before it engulfed the factories had the civic body not snapped water supply to the area. The Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) allegedly stopped water supply to Hanumanganj locality four days ago citing tax dues.

The locals alleged that they had informed Dial 100 emergency services about 3.10am but the first fire tender arrived at 4.15am. Had the fire tender arrived on time, at least the second factory could have been saved.

Though BMC’s fire services official Sajid Khan denied any laxity on their part, the fire services in the state are in a shambles fighting against problems like shortage of machines and manpower, and also a well organised set up.

In a reply to a question in Lok Sabha on May 10, Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said, “As per the constitution, maintenance of fire service is a municipal function. It is, therefore, the primary responsibility of municipal bodies and state governments to provide adequate number of fire stations, fire tenders and trained manpower….”

The minister’s reply came on a report that found there are 2,987 fire stations in the country against requirement of 8,559 – a deficiency of 65%. After Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh has highest 292 fire stations.

In another reply in Lok Sabha in March on modernisation of fire services, the central government said, “It is the primary responsibility of municipal bodies and state governments to equip fire services with modern gadgets and technologies and to take various steps required for safety of life and property of citizens in the area of their jurisdiction… The Centre had provided Rs 176.56 crore under the “Strengthening of Fire and Emergency Services” scheme to states during 2009-13.”

According to a report, fire services in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh are under the jurisdiction of municipal corporations. In other states, it is under the home department.

In Madhya Pradesh, the police department runs about six fire stations at Mantralaya (Bhopal), Motitabela, Laxmibainagar and Gandhi hall (Indore), Pithampur (Dhar) and Malanpur (Bhind). There is no directorate and unified system in Madhya Pradesh which could provide training to personnel and address issues related to fire services.

Fire services official Khan said a directorate would ensure a well laid system to tackle fire incidents in the state and take care of fire service personnel.

“A timely and well prepared action plan can save many lives and lots of property,” said a report by Delhi-based National Institute of Disaster Management.

Additional director general of fire services Vijay Kumar said a proposal had been sent by his department to the state government for setting up a directorate which would take care of various aspects related to fire fighting.