Malbhat Fire Exposes Administration’s Deficiencies
Just as the battle was lost for want of a nail, lack of facilities resulted in a loss of over Rs 1.25 crore due to the fire a Sapana Arcade at Malbhat in Margao on Tuesday as the losses could have been minimized if only the authorities had provided some basic amenities.
The lack of fire hydrants was sorely felt as the fire fighting personnel were valiantly fighting the fire. Fire tenders had to rush to the Fire Services headquarters at Aquem for refill. Ironically, water from the drinking water well nearby could not be used a there were no pumps available.
The fire services did not even have a hydraulic lift, which would have made the fire fighting exercise easier and one had to be arranged from the electricity department which arrived quite late.
Assistant Fire Divisional Officer, Prakash Parab admitted that the fire fighting operations were hit by non-availability of water and pointed out that their proposal to provide fire hydrants in the city is gathering dust with the authorities.
BJP leader Rupesh Mahatme, pointed out that the Disaster Management Authority which ought to have been on the site first, was nowhere to be located and added that it was the locals who acted instinctively to deal with the problem.
Collector South Goa, G P Naik, who heads the District Disaster Management Authority washed his hands off the episode by arguing that the authority had given its proposals, including setting up fire hydrants at different places in the city, to the government, which has not acted on them and added that it was for the government to provide the infrastructure.
The fire totally destroyed an office cum store room of a pharmaceutical company situated on the first floor and badly damaged two other offices and a flat on the second floor.
The loss to the office cum store room is estimated to be Rs one crore, while the damage to the flat on the second floor is pegged at Rs 25 lakhs. The two other shops have suffered damage to the tune of Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively, according to fire services personnel. Incidentally, the fire services saved property worth Rs 50 lakhs.
The fire reportedly broke out following a blast in one of the batteries of the inverter in the office. The staff’s efforts to douse the ensuing flames were unsuccessful as there was a blast in another battery soon thereafter.
The fire tenders arrived at the scene within 10 minutes of receiving the call and additional tenders from Curchorem and Ponda were requisitioned to deal with the fire that threatened to engulf the entire building.