Following the tragedy of the fire at Bhandara Hospital, State Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar expressed the need for an advanced fire fighting system in the areas rural. However, senior state government officials said there was no firefighting system in rural areas. None of Maharashtra’s 34 zilla parishads has a fire brigade.
“Following the Bhandara hospital tragedy, there is a need to put in place an advanced fire fighting system and to conduct fire and building security audit,” Wadettiwar told the reporters after visiting Bhandara hospital on Saturday.
In Maharashtra, 28,813 grams of panchayats operate under the zilla parishads, which operate primary health centers and hospitals in rural areas. In total, there are 1,814 primary health care centers in Maharashtra, in addition to 23 district hospitals, 361 30-bed rural hospitals, 58 50-bed sub-district hospitals and 28 100-bed sub-district hospitals. beds. All of these operate in rural areas. In the event of a fire in a residential or commercial area, government offices or in a hospital or other health facilities, firefighters should be summoned by the nearby city council or municipal company. This is causing a delay in firefighting activities as civic bodies are located far from rural areas, a government official said.
State Additional Chief Secretary (Department of Urban Development and Panchayati Raj) Rajesh Kumar said: âIt is true that there is no fire system available in rural areas. The Zilla Parishad law does not provide for firefighters. However, city councils and municipal corporations have their own fire fighting systems in place. While municipalities have an effective firefighting system, city councils, like the gram panchayats, are lagging behind when it comes to the firefighting system, officials said.
âFollowing the hospital tragedy, I think it is also necessary to set up a fire fighting system in rural areas. We will have to submit a proposal to cabinet, âKumar said.
Leading government sources have said that the Fire Services Directorate is not headed by an IAS or IPS officer. âIn Karnataka, an IG-level officer heads the Directorate of Fire Services. In Maharashtra, IAS or IPS officers do not run the Fire Department. As a result, fire departments are not managed efficiently, âan official said on condition of anonymity.
Retired supplemental collector KC Karkar in Pune said that if there is a fire in rural areas, they have no choice but to go to city councils or companies. âBy the time firefighters arrive from urban areas, the damage is already done. I don’t think any thought has ever been given to setting up firefighting facilities or providing appropriate firefighting services in rural areas, âhe said.
Karkar said that gram panchayats with meager budgets could not be expected to set up and take care of firefighting facilities. âSince there are thousands of gram panchayats and they have a limited budget, at least at the taluka level, the fire fighting system can be put in place. This system has never been seriously considered by successive governmentsâ¦ â, added Karkar.
In Pune District, there are two municipal corporations, three cantonment councils and 14 municipal councils. Pune Metropolitan Area Development Authority (PMRDA) commissioner Suhas Divase said: âMIDC and municipal corporations have a proper fire fighting system, but even city councils do not have a proper firefighting system. effective systems due to lack of funding. Over the past year or so, PMRDA has taken the greatest care of fires in rural areas of the district. “