A house in New Thippasandra caught fire during the early afternoon of December 5. Residents allege that the source of the fire was a heap of garbage close to the window which was lit up by conservancy workers who collect garbage from the vicinity. The flames spread till they reached the open windows of the two-storey corner house behind.
Alerted by the sound of breaking glass, a neighbour rushed to the house above and urged the resident there to leave. The residents of the area managed to put off the fire before much damage was done. Koushik Choudhary's rented house was rescued; the windows and the electric plug points took the brunt.
Janaki Sukumaran, who stays in the apartment above Koushik's was unaware of the commotion. Her neighbour, K Narasimhan, informed her that it was slowly creeping up and had already cracked her window. Shocked by the unfortunate turn of events, she informed Koushik that 'something bad has happened'.
Narasimhan, who helped put out the fire said, "What if someone was inside? I told her (Janaki) not to stay in the house, since it's dangerous with the gas cylinder."
His sole consolation is that there were no casualties. He continues, "The most appalling fact is that the fire fighters arrived after we called them 4 or 5 times. Over the phone they were asking me if there was fire inside or out and I kept telling that we can't see, there's so much smoke."
According Narasimhan, the fire squad arrived only at 3.30 pm, at least an hour and a half after he first alerted them. "We'd put out the fire by then," he said.
Added Koushik, "The firemen were not wearing jackets, helmets or gloves. Just khakhi shirts. If there was a big fire, they could not have done anything. All they did was pull the power cord from the socket."
But then the main cause of the fire, the garbage has been a troubling issue. Janaki and her daughter Abhirami said that despite repeated requests, residents of the area have continued to dump garbage outside the house. Abhirami said, "There are no dustbins anywhere close by. Even if we do give our garbage to the collectors, they probably dump it next to our house."
Another major concern is that the 'illegal' garbage dump is just near a transformer and if the fire had gone out of hand, a series of homes would have been destroyed along with many lives. Koushik has decided to move out and the incident has worn out the patience of others. They've decided to take Koushik's lead and move out as well.
Complaints to the contractor of the area, who reportedly accompanies the Paurakarmikas everyday, seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
When contacted, MLA of C V Raman Nagar, S Raghu, said, "Even now residents have not complained. I had earlier scheduled an inspection along with the mayor tomorrow to look into the garbage and sanitation issues. Now, I will sort out this matter also." The corporator, Sumithra remained unavailable for comment.
Not so solid a reaction
"If the paurakarmikas burn the dry waste, they are subject to a fine `100 for the first two times and `500 if they are repeated offenders. The same goes for the contractors who are in charge of the areas. Now that I know of the incident, I will immediately contact the concerned assistant executive engineer and contractor and take action. Meanwhile, anyone who wants to notify us (the BBMP) of similar instances or has complaints relating to garbage may call the control room."
Official in-charge of solid waste management, BBMP