BY ERWIN FONSECA | NT
MAPUSA: The lack of proper planning has led to a number of fire incidents at the Mapusa market.
It is very evident that the authorities have failed to follow a proper procedure while setting up the fire hydrants in the market.
Recently, property worth Rs 3 lakh was destroyed in the fire, which gutted two shops in the market despite the existence of 5 fire hydrants in there, which were commissioned a few years ago.
After the fire hydrants were set up, the PWD and the Mapusa Municipality have hardly checked their functioning.
According to the information provided by some experts, the PWD has not followed a proper procedure while setting up these hydrants, and secondly the market inspectors, who are supposed to ensure proper visibility, and access to the hydrants, have failed in ensuring the same.
Konuri, a businessman from Mapusa, said that it is the duty of the market inspectors to ensure that proper access is kept in the market, and electric and fire equipment are maintained properly.
“If you are visiting the Mapusa market, you are sure to be greeted by congestion and indiscipline. The vendors keep their items around the hydrants. The hydrants remain partly or fully covered, and so are inaccessible,” he said.
Mapusa fire station officer Bosco Ferrao lamented that the market lacks proper access during day as well as night.
Ferrao said that it was high time the municipality infused discipline among the vendors.
Secondly, he said out that he has clear directives from the director of Fire Services Ashok Menon that market hydrants should be maintained properly and should be functional at a given time so that the loss of property is minimal in case fire breaks out.
“There is neither a water storage tank nor a jockey fire pump linked to the fire hydrants in the Mapusa market. This has resulted in very low pressure of water for the hydrants. The water pressure should be maintained as per the clause 7.5 of IS 13039: 1991 under the Provision and Maintenance of Practice
The hydrants in Mapusa market were inspected in September 2014 and the shortcomings were brought to the notice of the concerned authorities. The shortcomings were once again reported to the deputy collector, municipality, and the PWD.
Firefighters said that checking the system during the day is not feasible as the market is congested, and secondly the hydrants have been connected to the main water line, which is a violation of the rules laid down for the purpose of setting up a fire hydrant system.
When contacted, Mapusa chairperson Sandip Falari said that he is in the process of talking to the vendors and merchants over the prevention of fire tragedies.
“Though we are finalising a master plan for the town, we are taking some temporary measures to prevent fire tragedies. We will discuss the same with all stakeholders shortly” he said.
PWD assistant engineer Tamboskar said that he is unaware about the improper functioning of the fire hydrants.
He said that his junior staff had checked the fire hydrants a month back.
“I am not aware that the pressure is low or the hydrants are not functioning properly. In December 2014, my junior engineer Fernandes along with fire officials had checked the system, and I suppose everything is fine” he said.
The statement of the engineer comes as a surprise as the fire officials claim that on December 15, they had written about the shortcomings of the hydrants to the PWD and these shortcomings still persist.
Ferrao said that with a lot of goods dumped near or over the hydrants it is very difficult to locate the hydrants leave aside opening the valve with a key.
“This clearly shows how these hydrants are maintained, and the awareness among the shopkeepers and vendors on the importance of the hydrants in the market,” he said.