Friday, 12 September 2008

the t.nagar fire and the thoughts it kindled...

I guess every chennaiite would have been to ranganathan street or usman road sometime or the other...

Though usman road and ranganathan street are the most frequented shopping areas in the city, there is no doubt that the area is in no way equipped to handle the huge crowds that throng the place...

I was just reading some newspaper reports of the recent fire incident that happened in a multi-storeyed shop in Ranganathan street in T.Nagar, and there are many things about it that I find appalling…

-though the fire broke out at around 3.30 AM, the fire service was notified only around 6.00 AM

- the shop authorities, on being questioned by the fire personnel on arrival, insisted that there was no possibility of any employees remaining inside the building.

- the shop did not have any fire extinguishing equipment ready on hand.

- the narrow roads were a major hindrance for the fire department vechicles and water tankers to access the place quickly. Every time the fire dept hoses ran dry and they had to wait for the water tankers to negotiate the narrow street.

in addition, the hoardings and name boards jutting out into the street slowed down the tanker's movement as they had the risk of hitting the windshields and breaking them.

- the last i heard, the owners of the shops, instead of being there, owning up to their faults and making arrangements for remedial measures, have conveniently absconded the place....

- the very next day after the blaze, owners of the surrounding shops apparently argued with the police and insisted that they be allowed to resume business, unmindful of the danger from the damaged building….


its quite obvious that most of these commercial buildings have violated building codes and thrown safety precautions to the winds....
the narrow passages, the absence of emergency exits and adequate fire extinguishers, all these could have caused a huge disaster had the incident happened later during the day.

The public, with the usual, typical, combination of gallantry and nonchalance with which it bounces back from every calamity and catastrophe that happens in the country, has taken to thronging the very same street the very next day…and with its usual short-lived memory, shall soon forget the entire episode and go about as usual, oblivious of the potential dangers….

Will shop owners learn anything from this and put safety measures in place, will authorities wake up and strictly enforce the necessary rules and come down heavily on violators, or is this going to be just another incident…

A wedding hall in Srirangam and a private school in Kumbakonam don’t seem to have taught us anything…its a miracle if a shopping complex in T.Nagar will…

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