Uri, Feb 2: Residents from dozens of Uri villages claim that there is only one fire tender for more than 90 villages of two Tehsils — Uri and Boniyar — which is not sufficient for such a huge population, thereby creating problems for the people manifolds.
The locals allege the government and district administration of callous approach towards this far flung area of north Kashmir.
The locals said that despite many requests to authorities for more fire tenders, nothing was done in this regard.
“We are living in fear all the time. What if there is massive fire in our area, what will happen to us, our whole property is at stake. Our sincere requests time and again are falling on deaf ears,” Aijaz Ahmad a resident of Uri said.
Earlier, On February 24, 2017, at around 2 AM, a devastating fire broke out in Uri town of north Kashmir, destroying more than 50 shops and godowns in one go.
The fire, which started from a double-story building, engulfed rest of the nearby shops and godowns in a jiffy. The fire could not be controlled because of unavailability of required fire tenders in the area. Earlier, on January 26,2017, a historical Jamia Masjid in Bijhama, also in Uri was gutted in the area, bringing a shame on the department.
Aijaz Ahmad said that the fire incidents like these get worse and the damages are huge but the district administration is in deep slumber as there is only one fire tender catering to 90 villages of geographically difficult terrain with a population of more than one lakh people.
The local traders of Uri, blame the government for callous approach. According to Mushtaq Ahmed Lone, Secretary Beaopar Mandal Uri, the non-availability of fire tenders is the major reason for huge damages in fire incidents.
When the Uri main market was gutted it took hours for fire tenders from Baramulla and Sangrama to reach the spot (around 50 km) in order to bring a fire under control.
Locals in the town said they had also requested for separate fire tenders at Sheeri, Boniyar and Chandanwari so at times of fire disasters the damage could be lessened but till date, they did not receive any reply from the authorities.
Authorities agree there are grievances but they are hopeful of betterment of the resources and infrastructure. “First time we have drafted a disaster management plan at subdivision level. In new disaster management plan, we have included fire tenders of NHPC and Army in the infrastructure list so at time of any mishaps we can take their help”, said SDM Uri Dr Sagar.
The administration said a new land has been identified at Boniyar tehsil that will cater to the needs of the area of subdivision Uri and few areas of Baramulla.
“We have identified a new land for Boniyar tehsil and submitted the proposal to the divisional commissioner. That will put off the load from Uri fire department”, SDM Uri added.
Another problem that the department faces is lack of a water reservoir. During mishaps, the fire tender has to travel to far off nallah to get the refill.
Fire and Emergency Department has no space to keep the lone fire tender at Uri market. They park it on the road. During the time of emergency, they first have to clear the road to give way for the fire tender to rush to the affected spot
Deputy Director Fire services Abdul Khaliq Wani said that Uri is a vast area and caters to difficult and different terrain and says the department has proposed to the government for more manpower and infrastructure.
“Yes, it is a grave issue, on 48 kilometers stretch there is only one fire tender. We have proposed two new fire service stations at Sheeri and Boniyar in a recent meeting. Once they are sanctioned, it will solve the problems of areas,” Wani said.