The devastating incident of a gas cylinder bursting into a blazing fire injuring people and destroying properties in one of the most congested neighbourhood in the heart of the city at Majorkhul has flung open the door to many a debates. The devastating fire had roared on for more than a few hours before it could be controlled, subdued by the fire tenders from the Fire Service headquarter with help arriving from other neighbouring districts. Many have pointed fingers against the fire department’s failure to identify the urgency to respond to the emergency and arriving late for the devastating consequences of the fire. Voices of dissent after such calamities like the June 24 inferno are but expected. However, what is perhaps less immediately striking and more interesting in the present scenario is the Chief Minister and the other heads of the State acknowledging the lack of manpower in the State fire department just before leaving the scene of devastation as was reported in most local dailies. Does this mean that the State heads were unaware of the lack of manpower in one of the most crucial and important department as the Fire Service until devastation struck? Or was it lack of communication between the Fire Service and the government, or did the latter’s authorities failed to inform the government of the lack of manpower? Whatever the reason was, a fire broke out in the middle of the city barely a kilometre away from the Manipur Fire Service headquarter and roared on for three hours, devastating homes and families in its wake. Someone needs to provide answers. The government owes an answer to its public.
The damage is already done, and we have learnt a lesson. With the Chief Minister and his deputy already acknowledging the lack of manpower in the department, which perhaps is the first acknowledgement of responsibility for the incident, it is understood as well as expected that the government would work on it at the earliest. Now what is also expected of the State is a clear cut vision to annihilate any inadequacy which could provide room for similar devastations. And the sooner it gets done, the better it will facilitate in reinforcing and restoring the public’s trust in the State. The government has already made the assurances, but at the same time it has a notorious reputation of failing to turn assurances into actions. What the people could expect is assurance accompanied by action that the State is ready for any such eventuality. When a gas explosion barely a kilometre away from the headquarter of the State Fire Service could be so disastrous, it is anybody’s guess as to what could be the consequence, if any such eventuality were to happen on the eastern side of the Imphal River. Now, Imphal East has no fire service of its own, and ever since Sanjenthong has been closed down to give way to a newer version, connectivity between the two twin districts of Imphal East and Imphal West has been utterly chaotic. In such a scenario the best option could be installation of a few fire tenders in the district. The government is already under much criticism as it is, therefore proceeding along the people’s line of expectation on the present issue could help it garner a brownie point or two.
Leader Writer: Wangkheimayum Bhupendra Singh