THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even though a sum of Rs one crore has been set aside in the budget for the development of three mini fire and rescue stations in the city, the project faces an uncertain future since the spaces identified are entangled in legal wrangles.
As per the government’s proposal, the mini fire stations will come up near Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, the Secretariat and Chalai market. The spaces near the Padmanabhaswamy temple and the Secretariat were chosen taking into consideration the security aspects while Chalai market has been identified for its vulnerability to fire accidents.
According to senior officers with the Fire and Rescue Services Department, two sites one near the Sreepadam auditorium and the other beside the South Gate (Thekke Nada) had been identified for the proposed mini-station. But, since the land at both the sites are entangled in legal issues, the steps which have to be taken to get the project moving has come to a halt.
At Chalai market, a parcel of land owned by TRIDA near Erumakkulam was identified for the project. But, TRIDA will only hand over the land after being compensated. With the government yet to release any funds, the implementation process is getting delayed.
Meanwhile, land for the unit that has been proposed at the Secretariat is yet to be identified by the government, the officers said.
“We are negotiating with the landowners and talks are on with TRIDA too. Hopefully, the hurdles will be cleared at the earliest. As far as the unit at the Secretariat is concerned, the government needs to identify a site,” said M Noushad, divisional officer, Thiruvananthapuram.
The mini-stations at the proposed locations will have a fire engine and three to four personnel. The personnel at each location will be assigned to tackle the fire accidents that happen at the designated spots. The personnel might get called up to help out at another location based on the requirement since the department is facing severe staff shortage.
According to Noushad, due to unavailability of land, the department had to make some adjustments with regard to some specifications that have to be adhered to while setting up a fire station unit.
The Fire and Rescue Services Department had earlier conducted a fire safety audit at the three locations following repeated incidences of fire accidents and as part of tightening security measures. The officers with the department said the proposal for the mini-stations was mooted as per the recommendations made in the audit procedure.
Fire safety audit is an effective tool to assess fire safety standards of an organisation or occupancy. A comprehensive fire safety audit can address the inherent fire hazards associated with the day-to-day activities in an occupancy and recommend measures to reduce the potential fire hazards.
Making no headway
Though the state budget of 2017-18 allocated funds to set up a new fire station at Ulloor, the project reached nowhere and still remains on paper. Though the Fire and Rescue Services Department authorities approached the government several times, nothing positive has been achieved so far.
Trading community welcomes mini stations
The traders at Chalai and East Fort welcomed the government’s move to set up mini-stations. “East Fort and Chalai are very overcrowded. These two spots are also vulnerable to fire. The incidents of fire outbreak have failed to open the eyes of the authorities. However, the decision to set up a mini fire station at Chalai market is a welcome move. Hopefully, the government will sort out all the prevailing issues related to land acquisition,” said Jalaluddeen, a trader at Chalai market.
Earlier, when DGP Jacob Thomas was the chief of the department, he had identified the same locations in the city for the safety audit.