Bengal’s fire chaser and motorbike ambulance dada gets Padma Sri

Bipin Ganatra, a 59-year-old school dropout had reached almost all fire accident sites in Kolkata for the past 40 years.

Published: 26th January 2017 05:36 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th January 2017 05:53 PM   |  A+A-

Bipin Ganatra: Kolkata's 'fire chaser' Bipin Ganatra in a fire department uniform after dousing a fire in the city in 2016. | EPS

Express News Service

KOLKATA: A voluntary firefighter who has helped Kolkata fire department douse over 100 fires in the city for the past 40 years and a tea garden worker who runs a free 24x7 motorbike ambulance in northern Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district received the prestigious Padma Shri award, the country's fourth highest civilian award.
Bipin Ganatra, a 59-year-old school dropout had reached almost all fire accident sites in Kolkata for the past 40 years. He has been conferred the title of ‘voluntary firefighter’ by the Kolkata Fire Service. He has even endured several rescue operations endangering his own life. Kolkata witnessed over 1,600 fires in 2015 leading to deaths of over 153 people. The city's 1,258 firemen are among the most overworked in the country.
On the other hand, ‘motorbike ambulance dada’ Karimul Haque, a 52-year-old tea garden labourer, has transported over 3,000 patients from various parts of Jalpaiguri district to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri city on his motorbike free of cost since the last 22 years.
Tragedy of losing family members had led both the awardees, to begin with their selfless mission. While Bipin Ganatra lost his younger brother to a fire incident, Karimul saw his mother Jaffurannesa die in his arms in absence of an ambulance. He also helps set up health camps in the region. At first, he used to ferry passengers in bicycles, then gradually saved enough money to buy a motorbike.
Ganatra used to first help the firemen in small but essential works in dousing fire and later became an integral part of the fire department. Whenever he gets any information of fire on in any part of greater Kolkata region through broadcast media, he rushes to the spot. A private motorbike manufacturer has honoured both the Padma Sri awardees with two custom-made motorbikes that may serve their needs.

Padma Sri


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