A gas cylinder blasts in the attic of a 3-storey house at Nawa Kadal area of Srinagar just yesterday. Not the first incident of its kind, we have had many in past, resulting in fires and consequent damage to life and property. Just days back we had a devastating fire at Baba Reshi, Tangmarg, turning a good number of commercial structures to ashes. For many it is just a matter of statistics – how many shops were burnt; how many houses were consumed by flames. But those who suffer the loss know what it means. Another fire incidents are Haftchinar, uptown Srinagar, left many families homeless. Not just this, heart rending was the loss of two lives in this incident. Before these two instances, we have had more in past few weeks this year. Back to Back many localities witnessed fire incidents, and each time we saw how people were left shelterless in a matter of minutes. To the extent of covering the news, media does its job. To the extent of doing routine office work, the concerned departments go to the spot, take as assessment of the damage, and file the report. Some locals also come to console the sufferers, and may be also try to help. But that must not be the end of it.
There are some serious questions that arise in the wake of such instances. Some are related to the Fire and Emergency Services. Some pertain to the administrative heads in the government. And to a large extent questions must be posed to the society at large. The Fire and Emergency Services need to analyse the recent fire incidents and try to identify the common causes. Based on that analysis a public sensitisation drive can be launched to make people observe the necessary precautions. The department can also brief the government how such incidents can be stopped by observing certain rules about building houses, laying electric lines and using things like cooking and heating gas. The administrative heads should ensure that different causes for such fire incidents are eliminated one by one. What also is the responsibility of the government is to help the affected in a substantial manner. The role of civil society is both before and after such incidents. One, people on their own should discourage the violation of rules and norms that later lead to such instances. Two, the well to do among us must come forward to lend a helping hand to those who lose the shelter and the ways of livelihood.