By R Lester Makang
UKHRUL, March 2: Even as the demand for opening of a new fire sub-station at Litan Sareikhong is mounting in the wake of the February 3 fire incident, the absence of a permanent sub-officer (SO) in the rank of sub-inspector (SI) and inadequate infrastructure, equipment and man-power continue to ail the functioning of the existing Fire Sub-station located at Phungreitang in Ukhrul district headquarters in the face of the continuing apathy of the higher authority.
Disclosing this in an interaction with Imphal Free Press, ASI, KS Johnson said that he has been given charge of the sub-station without even confirming his position as SO since the former sub-officer was transferred some six/seven months back.
He further said that he has repeatedly apprised the higher authority in Imphal of the need for a full-fledged SO to look after the department while stating that the headquarters have also assured him to fulfil the same but till date the post continues to lie vacant.
Expressing anguish over the continued callousness of the government towards the poor infrastructure and equipment, Johnson , who is also the designated leading fireman said, “The office building is now beginning to crumble with the rooftop already leaking and the twin shutters at the front have stopped working, thereby rendering it unsafe for staff and security personnel on duty.“
“Since its inauguration in 1990, the government has never bothered to maintain or look into the condition of the building despite repeated request for its renovation,“ he rued.
He stated that the service of a mini fire tender is indispensable in hilly places like Ukhrul where most localities cannot be easily accessed by regular tenders and the same was requisitioned long time back but it has not been provided till date, while also adding that this mini tender comes in handy all the more where there is no ponds or water sources nearby during fire-fighting.
Johnson lamented that even the monthly quota of 90 ltrs of fuel (diesel) is never released in time. “Which is why we often run out of fuel while at work and we manage to procure it ourselves for the return trip,“ he asserted.
Currently, the sub-station has three tender drivers and five security personnel under the leading fireman.
“Since we are rendering a 24×7 service, it is hard to manage with available manpower, so we had asked for engagement of four VDF personnel but this has also not been fulfilled by the government as yet,“ he maintained adding, “All these shortfalls clearly show that our higher authority is deliberately overlooking the various problems of the sub-station.“