[ Ranjit Sinha ]
How many fire mishaps occurred in the state during the month of January this year? I know it is a bit of an awkward question for the common citizen because it is impossible to give a serious thought to every happening on the planet in these days of hectic day-to-day chores.
Some would say that the data on fire incidents should be available with the fire service authority as it is their duty to keep records of such incidents in the state. Well, I agree that the fire service authority, or some other competent authority of the state government, is duty-bound to keep records of the fire incidents in the state.
Now the question is: are duty and responsibility two different things? Is it only the responsibility of the government to find solutions to the problems and miseries of the common people?
One may wonder what prompted this scribe to talk about duty and responsibility when the people of the capital complex have been driving on the dusty road for months on end due to the lethargy in the construction of the national highway, and when the citizenship amendment bill makes the northeastern region a cauldron of uncertainty.
It is my perception that when the people in power and the common people fail to give a serious thought to their responsibility towards the wellbeing of the state and the society, problems exist, and persist, in every sphere of activity, including the round-the-year reports of fire accidents in the state.
The first month of the year 2019 began with the report of a fire incident in Changlang (3 January), and ended with the report of a fire mishap in the same district (30 January). Two persons – one in Tirap and the other in Upper Subansiri – lost their lives to fire accidents.
While four incidents of fire mishaps – two each from Changlang and East Kameng – were reported, other major fire accidents were reported from Tirap, Naharlagun, Upper Subansiri, Koloriang (Kurung Kumey) and Pakke-Kessang during the month of January. The month witnessed fire mishaps almost every week.
We cannot deny that fire accidents in Arunachal Pradesh have become a matter of serious concern with reports of such tragedies coming in throughout the year from different districts of the state. On the other hand, while we cannot fight natural calamities like floods, landslides, earthquakes, etc, we can take precautionary measures to minimize fire accidents.
Here also comes the responsibility of the government agencies and the common citizens towards the society.
There is no doubt that the district disaster management authorities, along with NDRF personnel, are doing their level best to bring awareness on disaster management, including fire rescue operation, but these are not enough to prevent fire mishaps. Apart from government agencies, every citizen and community-based organizations should shoulder the responsibility to minimize fire incidents in their respective areas.
It may be recalled here that a state level committee headed by the principal home secretary was formed in 2016 to check frequent fire mishaps across the state and recommend solutions to thwart such unfortunate incidents. At the same time, instructions were issued for formation of district level committees in every district, and the district administrations were empowered to form sub-divisional and block level committees, involving bazaar committees.
Will the government take the pain to inform the public about the recommendations, if any, prescribed by the committees?
Considering the gravity of the situation, I would also like to draw the attention of the governor to the matter. Will the governor be kind enough to give the Pay Back to Society Group the responsibility to educate the people about the need to form fire mishap awareness-cum-preventive measures committees in every nook and corner of the state?