Sunday, January 13, 2008

A warning ignored

Placed below is an excerpt from the Telegraph newspaper today (the article is about a devastating fire which took place in Kolatta yesterday in the Burra bazar area) :-
134 wake-up calls, all on deaf ears

Calcutta, Jan. 12: If only the fire services department had acted on any of the 134 appeals from a tenant in Jamunalal Bajaj Street, between July 2004 and September 2005, today’s fire at the Nandaram market complex may have been averted.

“There is a fire waiting to happen here… Through The Telegraph we would like to appeal to all concerned to act before it is too late,” wrote Suresh Somani on February 4, 2007.

Somani had petitioned every senior official in the fire department. He had written to fire minister Pratim Chatterjee six times, emailed him 10 times, faxed him 20 times and visited him seven times to highlight the tragedy waiting to happen in Burrabazar. He had paid 50 visits to the director-general of fire services, besides writing him five letters and sending 20 faxes.....

In all, Somani had sent 77 letters, emails and faxes to officials in the fire services department and visited them 57 times, all within 14 months.

“We fear official help will only come to us after a disaster happens,” Somani had written.

That disaster happened early today, in the buildings adjoining Somani’s.

“Hundreds of people have lost their only source of livelihood in the fire. If only the authorities had heard our pleas,” lamented Somani.


It is ironic that we in the hills are facing an identical situation today. With approx 5 months after the last monsoons and and equal time before the next one:-

a) We have posted photographs, reports and stories about the near disaster we suffered in Sept2007 on this blog and in many other sites.

b) The media has covered the issue ad nauseam.

c) We have written to the local authorities (District Magistrate and the Chief Principal Secretary, DGHC) a number of times to which all we have received a wall of silence.

d) We have alerted the highest levels in the state govt and even written to the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM).

e) We have held a demonstration demanding preventive action against landslides

f) We have shown the evidence to scientists from the Geological Survey of India (GSI).

Yet nothing worthwhile has happened on the ground. With barely 4 months to go for the next monsoons, "schemes" are still being submitted to the District Authorities for "approval" and I ,for one, am sure that some areas which I have seen will certainly are the people whose houses are located in those areas.
It is ironic that the only people who don't believe this are those who are sitting in plush offices surrounded by their fawning minions.

It is a pity that in Sep2008 one may once again read another Headline in the Telegraph saying
"Wake-up call, falls on deaf ears"

praful rao

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