Fire & Emergency Services Bandipora ‘struggling’ to get back part of its building

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Bandipora: The Fire and Emergency Services Department in north Kashmir's Bandipora district has been “struggling” in getting the major part of the building handed over to the administration for setting up the mini-secretariat 15 years ago back.

The official communications show that the staff in the department is facing "huge difficulties" in accommodating men and machinery for "want of space."

Citing the records, the assistant director Bandipora, in communication with the Joint Director, of Fire, and emergency service, via AD/Bpr/Bld/2022/507-09 on  May 4 has declared that the land measuring 11 Kanals and 7 Marlas and the three-storied building at 05 bay Fire complex constructed in 1999, belongs to the department.

In 2007, the portion of the building was "occupied" by the administration as it was made a district with the DC office on the ground floor and other offices functioning from the first floor of the building.

In 2014, as the DC office was shifted to the newly constructed mini secretariat building, the building was converted into an R&B guest House, "ignoring the services provided by the fire and emergency department."

Despite the R&B now having its own guest house nearby, the "building has been unnecessarily kept occupied by R&B (PWD) department. “

The same concern has been raised with the Deputy commissioner Bandipora by Joint Director Fire and emergency services in a communiqué via JDF&ES-K/GB/2022/3487-89 on  May 19  urging that building be handed back since the department is facing huge difficulties "as not enough residential spaces are available for our men making it extremely difficult to carry out duties."

The Joint director Kashmir Fire and emergency services range further in the letter brings fore the issue of the non-availability of the office for the F&ES assistant director in the district apart from the command and fire control room bring operated in the prefabricated huts making the services of the department.

"Fire control room of command Bandipora which is the backbone of fire fighting operations presently accommodated in a fabricated hut making fire fighting operations extremely difficult," the letter reads.

In a similar communication in 2019, the director had requested the buildings takeover, but to no avail.

In a reply to District Commissioner Bandipora, via EE/R&B/BPR 26404 dated 27 Jun, 2022, the executive engineer R&B has filed that they had "no objections if the building was handed over to the intended department," and that it simply had a care taker’s role.

The PWD said that "soon after the DC office was shifted, the building was temporarily converted into residential purposes for District Officers till the officers' hostel was constructed, then into the guest house by the district administration to accommodate VIPs, and dignitaries visiting the district".

After receiving "no objection", the joint director planning in an letter no: DDCB/MISC/2022-23/2403-05 dated 28-07-2022, the "building is handed over to the intending department ( F&ES)," while also requesting "F&ES to fix a suitable date in consultation with R&B for handover-takeover of the building."

However, surprisingly on  August 1, 2020 in letter no: DDCB/Misc/2022-23/2463-65 the assistant director F&ES, Joint director planning has "withdrawn" the earlier order of handover and takeover without citing any reasons.

Insiders in the districts F&ES department say that there was some "insurmountable" pressure being created by some of the "elements" at the guest house due to which the district administration wasnot able to hand us over the building.

They said that despite the accommodation at Ayuthmulla, these persons have taken control of the whole building affecting the F&ES's operations and refusing to vacate it. They said they have been struggling for years now to get back the building.

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