Srinagar: Traders in the congested area of Maharaj Gunj have been tirelessly trying to get a fire and emergency station set up in their area, after the old one closed down 10 years ago. However, officials cite lack of funds as the problem, even though a vacant piece of land was earmarked for the purpose in 2018.
President of Byopar Mandal Maharaj Gunj, Khurshid Ahmad Dalal, told Kashmir Reader, “We keep visiting the Fire and Emergency Department but they always say it is up to the higher authorities. A few weeks ago we again met with the Deputy Director, Fire and Emergency Services, to know about the status and he told us in a very clear-cut manner that the authorities were not releasing funds for construction.”
“If they don’t have funds, then why did they sanction the station in 2018? And why did they identify land for it in Sokalipora in Rajouri Kadal?” he further asked.
The old building of the fire and emergency station in Maharaj Gunj collapsed in 2012. Thereafter, the station was moved to a rented building. In 2018, the authorities decided to set up a permanent building at Sokalipora. However, without a building of its own, the station has now been merged with the one at Syed Hamid Pora.
Ayaz Zehgeer, an office bearer of the Byopar Mandal, Maharaj Gunj, told Kashmir Reader that land measuring 7.48 marlas was allotted for construction of a 2-Bay Fire Station, but nothing has happened beyond that.
Local shopkeepers as well as residents say they fear for their safety in absence of an established fire station in their area.
“Last winter, many fire incidents happened in and around this area. Property worth crores of rupees was lost. In every incident, the fire tenders reached the spot at least an hour late,” Muzafar Ahmad Bhat, a local shopkeeper, said.
“From Hamid Pora station to Maharaj Gunj it is very difficult for fire tenders to travel as the roads are very narrow. We saw last year how the movement of the vehicles was hampered and it took them one hour to reach, by which time everything had turned to ash,” Bhat further said.
Bashir Ahmad, Deputy Director of the Fire and Emergency Department, told Kashmir Reader that the government has already sanctioned land for construction of a permanent fire and emergency station at Sokalipora. “A Detailed Project Report for an amount of Rs 236.88 has been prepared. But they are not releasing the funds. Without money what can we do?” Ahmad said.
He added that the administration wants to construct this fire station on war-footing basis, but nothing can be done till the funds come.