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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lack of protective equipment hampers firemen’s efforts

Mumbai: When chief fire officer H N Muzawar stepped out to meet state officials on Saturday afternoon after hours of fighting the blaze at Manish Market, he was gasping for breath. His eyes were red and his voice had acquired a hoarse timbre after prolonged exposure to the noxious fumes. Despite the fact that Mumbai has had at least four major fires this year alone, and promises from the government to update firefighting equipment, TOI found several firemen outfitted in only basic fire gear. 

    While around 100 firemen were deployed at the scene, there were only 20 sets of breathing apparatus available. The others worked without basic equipment like face masks and protective glasses. "We don't have enough equipment ... right now, we can only provide breathing apparatus to those who are going inside the shops," said a fire officer at the main control site. 
    Muzawar denied there was any shortage of safety equipment. "It is not possible to ensure that every fireman gets safety gear, but we have enough to ensure that those who step 
into the fire are protected." 
    At the spot, several firemen were seen wearing handkerchiefs wrapped around their faces to avoid inhaling the smoke. None of the fire-fighters had protective glasses and the fumes made it difficult for them to see clearly. Fire officer Suddesh Durgawale was admitted to Nair Hospital after falling sick due to smoke inhalation. Three more officers were admitted to the hospital with minor injuries. Face masks wer handed out only after the arrival of police commissioner Arup Patnaik around 1pm, though the fire
men had arrived at the scene at 3.45am. 
    After the 26/11 terror attacks, the BMC had promised to procure the latest fire-fighting equipment, including three-layer ensembles, approved by the National Fire Protection Association, that would safeguard against explosions and flash fires. The fire department was also supposed to purchase safety gear like face masks and glasses for every fireman, in addition to acquiring remote-controlled water monitors that could fight fire from half a kilometre away. 
    "This equipment is essen
tial to ensure the safety of our men. However, due to bureaucratic delays, we haven't been able to upgrade our stock," said a fire officer who did not wish to be named. He said that while masks, glasses and even fire-proof jackets had been purchased in the past two years, they hadn't been distributed to fire stations. The BMC cut the budget of the fire department by 30% in 2011. 
    Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said: "It is wrong that there isn't enough fire-fighting equipment. We have ensured that everything is in place." 

Times View 
Mumbai's fire fighters have always won laurels for their spirit and enterprise. But they seem to have got short shrift from the city administration. For one, they don't even have adequate equipment such as masks and breathing apparatus to control fire in a city that is getting congested by the day. For another, their training needs to be updated. The BMC also needs to tune up its fire-fighting strategy keeping in mind the new high-rises as well as old marketplaces.

TIME TO REFLECT: While around 100 firemen were deployed at the site, there were only 20 sets of breathing apparatus available

‘Power not cut even after alarm was raised’

    The blaze that engulfed Manish and Sara-Sahara markets early Saturday has thrown up many questions, and local traders and businessmen say that it was sabotage. The first discrepancy is the time factor: While fire officials and later the BMC disaster management cell say that they got the alarm only at 3.43 am, eyewitnesses put the time of fire at anywhere between 2.30am and 3am. Three hours after the fire fighters had arrived at the scene, the fire spread to Manish Market, located across a 10-ft lane, and is not connected to Sara-Sahara. Both the chief minister and home minister have called for a probe. 
    Locals alleged that the power supply was not cut off immediately after the structures caught fire. Fire officials declined to confirm the cause without a preliminary enquiry, but shopkeepers say that arson cannot be ruled out. "Suddenly, a small portion of Manish Market caught fire, and before we knew it, the blaze engulfed the building," said an eyewitness. 
    Police officials speculated that the fire may have started due to a short circuit in Sara-Sahara Market. 

    The police have not ruled out foul play. "This area is full of electronics, so a short circuit seems to be the most likely explanation. The presence of thousands of cables and wires would have only added to the pace at which the fire spread. This will be one of the prime angles that we shall investigate," said a senior police official of South region. Other theories include a possible cylinder blast, but fire officials say that early evidence does not point to this. 
    Eye-witnesses said that in the early hours of the blaze only two engines arrived at the spot. Chief fire officer, H N Muzawar said that the narrow lanes in the congested area made it impossible for more than four engines to operate inside. 

BEST 'unaware' of fire 

    When contacted at 10.45pm on Saturday, BEST PRO N A Walawalkar said that he was unaware of any blaze at the markets. One of the reasons the shopkeepers gave for why the fire spread was that the electricity was not shut off. BEST supplies electricity to the whole of south Mumbai, including the accident areas. A BEST security officer said that he would check, but switched off his phone soon after.

Fire ‘Jumps’ Across Lane From Sara Sahara Market To Manish Market


    Amajor fire not only razed Sara-Sahara market next to MRA Marg police station in south Mumbai early Saturday, but also managed to "jump" 25 feet across a narrow street to Manish Market—famous for its gadgets and toys— gutting 700-odd authorized and illegal shops within the building. 

    After the Garib Nagar fire in March, this is the second brigade call, the highest alarm, to be given this year. Initial estimates peg the losses around Rs 100 crore, with the fire destroying a total of 1,500-odd shops and shanties in the area. The official statement released by the fire department stated that 26 fire engines 13 tankers, which had to be refilled more than 100 times, had to be roped in. Ten BMC bulldozers were called in to break down shuttered stores as individual fires were raging inside them. 
    Even the time when the fire started is uncertain; while the fire brigade says it got the call only at 3.43am, eye-witnesses told TOI that the fire at Sara-Sahara started between 2.30am and 3.00am. Between 3.30am and 6am, the fire gutted Yara shopping complex, Munim compound and Green House building, which are adjacent to Sara-Sahara. As fire officials were struggling to control the blaze, at 6.30 am, shopkeepers across the street at Manish Market, which is in not connected to Sara-Sahara, reported that flames had spread to a small portion of the complex. 
    The fire brigade declared a 
brigade call at 6.50am and deployed more fire engines and tankers. The engines from the Mumbai fire brigade were not enough to bring the blaze under control, and tankers had to be called in from not only Navi Mumbai and Thane, but also from Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and BARC. 
    The fire at Manish Market began to spread rapidly, and within an hour, engulfed the complex. According to officials, the fire spread to Manish Market because the "flames threw up" highly combustible material like mobile batteries and cable wires to the other side of the road where Manish Market is located. Wires from the air-conditioning units that dot the fa├žade of the structure caught fire, and the blaze gained in intensity when the flames came in contact with combustible goods like perfumes and electronic gadgets. 
    Around 1pm, fire officials shifted their focus to Manish Market, even as cooling operations continued at Sara-Sahara. However, around 4pm, cooling operation at Sara-Sahara met with a snag as the remaining structure erupted into flames. It took two hours to control the blaze, but intermittent flareups continued through the night. At the time of going to press, fire officials were still fighting the blaze. 
    Chief fire officer H N Muzawar said "We found it difficult to navigate through the market. The structures should have had underground water reserves, which weren't there, making the operation difficult." 
    "The fire will be investigated by the BMC and our officers jointly. We shall submit a report to the government," said additional commissioner of police (South region), Naval Bajaj. Flood lights were put by the evening to help fire fighters. Additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani said, "Due to the presence of inflammable items, the operation will take a while." 

BMC office saved from blaze 
Dousing the fire at Manish Market was top priority for the BMC disaster management cell on Saturday. They soon realized that they had another headache – BMC's Palton Road office adjacent to Manish Market. The Palton Road office houses several important papers–from octroi to property papers as well as octroi penalty collection. Worried the building might catch fire, BMC officers broke the separating wall and utilized around 2 lakh litres of water, stored under the BMC property, for cooling the office walls. The officers also started moving the papers to a secured location but realized it was mammoth task.–Shawan Sen

SMOKE, FIRE, HOPE AND PRAYERS: (Clockwise from top) Fire engines in the lane between Sara-Sahar and Manish Market; firemen fighting the blaze on one side of Manish Market; an onlooker watches as the blaze continues through the night; a fire official breaks through the windows of Manish Market building to allow ventilation; shopkeepers look on as their livelihoods go up in smoke. (Bottom left to right) A man saves a copy of the Holy Quran from the inferno in Manish Market; two men pray outside Manish Market; shopkeepers wait anxiously outside Gulshan-e-Iran restaurant; a family looks down at the smoke-covered scene from the JJ flyover

Monday, November 21, 2011

Battleground Cairo: 33 dead in 3 days

Clashes Rock Egypt Ahead Of Elections

Cairo:Cairo police fought protesters demanding an end to army rule for a third day on Monday and morgue officials said the death toll had risen to 33, with many victims shot in the worst violence since the uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak. 
    Tens of thousands of people packed Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the anti-Mubarak revolt in January and February, as darkness fell, despite the clashes that threaten to disrupt Egypt's first free election in decades, due to start next week. Protesters have brandished bullet casings in the square, where police moved in with batons and tear gas on Saturday against a protest then dominated by Islamists but since driven by young people with secular aims. Police deny using live fire. 
    Medical sources at Cairo's main morgue said that 33 corpses had been received there since Saturday, most of them with bullet wounds. At least 1,250 people have been wounded, ahealth ministry source said. "I've seen the police beat women my mother's age. I want military rule to 
end," said protester Mohamed Gamal, 21. 
    Army generals were feted for their part in easing Mubarak out, but hostility to their rule has hardened since, especially over attempts to set new constitutional principles that would keep the military perma
nently beyond civilian control. 
    Police attacked a makeshift hospital in the square after dawn on Monday but were driven back by protesters hurling chunks of concrete from smashed pavements, witnesses said. "Don't go out there, you'll end up martyrs like the 
others," protesters told people emerging from a metro station at Tahrir Square. 
    The violence casts a pall over the first round of voting in Egypt's staggered and complex election process, which starts on November 28 in Cairo and elsewhere. REUTERS 

Army seeks to reach out with new law, protesters unmoved 
Egypt's ruling generals issued a law on Monday barring anyone found guilty of corruption from political life, but protesters said it would not allay their concerns that former supporters of ousted president Hosni Mubarak may regain influence. The announcement was made after three days of clashes demanding an end to army rule in which 33 people have been killed and 1,250 wounded. "The amended law would apply to those who work to corrupt political life," the military council said. Those convicted by the court would be "removed from positions of leadership and would lose their membership in the parliament and local councils," it added. REUTERS

SECOND UPRISING: Protesters take cover as cops fire tear gas and rubber bullets in Cairo on Monday

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brace for a 26/7 every 5 years instead of 20

'Climate Change Can Cause More Harm Than In '05'

New Delhi: Cloudbursts like the one that deluged Mumbai in 2005 could become a more frequent reality. Instead of occurring once in 20 years as they do on an average now, by the end of 21st century, it could happen as often as every five years and cause much greater damage, a yet-tobe released report by UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says. 

    Mumbai went through an aqua-shock in July, 2005, after 944 mm of rain fell—half of what the city receives annually on an average—within only 24 hours. Poor sanitation and drainage systems, incapable of handling the massive rainwater, had led to floods, crippling India's financial capital and causing an economic loss of $690-$1,890 million. The threat from such aqua shocks could treble by 2070 if climate change goes unchecked. 
    The flooding could have been managed better, if Mumbai's drainage systems were im
proved. The report devotes a lot of space to the Mumbai deluge, pointing out that the poorest suffer more in cities and that adaptation work like drainage management too would not cover all the risks with increase in high rain events and rising sea levels – both of which could occur during this century as mercury rises. The draft IPCC report is more careful than it ever was before the 'Himalayan blunder' controversy tarnished the institution's reputation. Yet, the predictions are dire. IPCC scientists confidently say places such as the Sunderbans, which are undergoing coastal erosion and inundation, will continue to suffer as sea levels rise. 
    The global average temperatures will rise by 1-3 degrees Celsius by 2050 and 2-5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. This may look like an insignificant figure, but its impacts on agriculture and water resources could be dramatic. "It is virtually certain that increases in the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes and decreases in cold extremes will occur through the 21st century on the global scale," the report says. There will be more days with extreme heat and the temperatures on those days will also go higher than what we have witnessed till now.

A yet-to-be released report by UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change says places such as the Sunderbans, which are undergoing coastal erosion and inundation, will continue to suffer as sea levels rise

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fewer flooding spots in Mumbai by next monsoon, says civic body

Mumbai: The BMC claims to have plugged gapsin nineof the67 major flooding spotsin Mumbai. The civic body further claimed that with two more pumping stations at Love Grove and Cleaveland to be commissioned by next May, nine more spots will have noflooding next monsoon. 

    Further,24spotswillhave noflooding by 2013 after the Britannia, Guzder Bund, Mogra and Mahul pumping stations are commissioned by May 2013. The Guzder Bund and Britannia pumping stations are awaiting clearancefrom the ministry of environment andforests.Tenderswillsoon befloatedtocompletetheworkwithin 2013. 
    However,corporatorshaveslammedthe delay in completing the Brihanmumbai Storm Water Disposal (Brimstowad) project. The ambitious project is likely to be completedby 2013. 
    The project work includes rehabilitation and augmentation of underground drains, construction of new drains, training of nullahs, widening and deepening of nullahs and construction of storm water pumping stations. The project has been dividedintotwo phases and, according to municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar, 14 of 
the 58 works under the project have been completedsofar,whileworkiscurrently on in 34."Astheworkbegan under this project, wehave managedtoincreasethecapacity of drains. Wehavewidened,deepened,trained and extended nullahs and outfalls, including floodgates," said municipal commissioner SubodhKumar. 
    A retired official from the stormwater drainage department said, "Rehabilitation of structures does take time as it involves 
demolition, too. Hence, one cannot expect workto getcompletedovernight." 
    The plan to augmentthestormwater disposal system began in 2007. The need for such a project was felt after the 2005 deluge. The drains in the city have the capacity to handle 25 mm of rainfall per hour and 200 mm in 24 hours. This was found to be below the markin comparison tothe rainfallintensity, so a proposal was mooted to widen and reconstruct nullahstotackleheavy rain. 

Times View 
t is time that the BMC takes public money and time seriously. Many of the projects it has worked on in the recent past, be it on roads or storm-water drainage, have been delayed because of frivolous reasons. The delay in starting work on 160 new roads, ostensibly because corporators wish to do the inauguration, is a case in point. Besides the delay, this also leads to cost escalation. The BMC promise on prevention of flooding also looks like going the same way; the BMC must back its promises with honest intent and solid work on the ground.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mobile Safety - Try to follow

Dont press #90 or #09 on mobile
Please circulate URGENTLY.

Dear All,

IF SOME ONE CALLS & ASKS YOU TO DIAL #09 or #90.  Please Do Not Dial This.

New Trick of Jehadi Muslim Terrorists to Frame Innocent People!!

If you receive a phone call on your
Mobile from any person saying that they are checking your mobile line, and you have to press #90 or #09 or

any other number. End this call immediately without pressing any numbers.

Team there is a fraud company using a device that once you press #90 or #09 they can access your SIM card and make calls at your expense and

to make the matter worse they will use it to call for terrorist activities and state agents will instead come for you, arrest you and will rot in jail

innocently. Forward this message to as many friends as u can, to stop it. This information has been confirmed by both Motorola and Nokia.


There are over 3 million affected mobile phones. You can check this news at CNN web site also.

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