Srinagar’s historic market lacks fire station

Srinagar’s historic market lacks fire station
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Maharaj Gunj traders aghast, residents accuse government of neglecting downtown

NAZIMA RASHID
SRINAGAR: Amid rising fire incidents in Srinagar’s downtown, the residents are left fumed over the government’s shifting Maharaja Gunj fire service station to Nawab Bazar.
Maharaja Gunj is a historic commercial market, housing more than 800 business establishments and government offices. Two years ago, the locality’s 73-year-old fire station, established in a decrepit building, collapsed prompting the station’s shifting. Since then, the area has had no fire station at all, raising apprehension among residents and traders.
President, Beopar Mandal, Khurshid Ahmad expressed his anguish over shifting the station to Nawab Bazar, nearly two kilometers from the market.
“Maharaja Gunj is a commercial area with a very rich and historic background. We are having commodities worth crores in our shops. If any fire incident takes place here, it will just take minutes to engulf the entire area, which surely will lead to a huge loss,” he told Kashmir Reader.
The narrow lanes of downtown make it almost impossible for vehicles to manoeuver. The traders’ body said in case of any eventuality, it would be very difficult for fire tenders to reach to spot.
“It will take time for fire tenders to reach here. That is why we want our fire service station here, in the area, so that it can act on time,” Khurshid said, adding they have approached everyone, including the concerned MLA, Ali Mohammad Sagar, the Fire Service department and the Roads and Buildings (R&B) department.
“Fire Service department suggested us to consult R&B department; in turn, they asked us to consult some other department. DC Srinagar also wrote to them to establish a fire station in the area, but nothing has happened so far,” he added.
A local, Javid Ahmad, attributed the government’s “stepmother” approach towards downtown as the cause for the move. “We are unable to understand what the authorities are trying to do with Shehr-e-Khaas. They are adopting a stepmother attitude towards us and are neglecting our area by any means possible to them,” he said.
He suggested that Wazapora, adjacent to Mahajara Gunj, has enough space where the station can be established.
Similarly, another resident, Manzoor Ahmad, said the government has been claiming they have prepared a master plan for the area for decades. But nothing has happened so far, except for shifting the station, he said sarcastically.
On its part, Joint Director, Fire and Emergency Service department, M A Dar said they are not getting suitable accommodation for setting up a station in the area.
“Setting up a fire station is extremely essential as response time is very precious because of the congestion in the area. I too talked about that land to the R&B department but according to them the land is required for road-widening plan,” he added.