Surat-like incident awaited in Jammu

A shaky incident takes place in the country, there is hue and cry, people shout, scramble in pain, media tries to highlight the event for earning TRP for their channel. The government gives condolence remarks, leaders visit the families so as to give sympathy or to perform their duty of showing gratitude to the janta that has voted for them.

Yesterday, such an incident took place in Surat, in a teaching institute. A massive fire breakdown took place, where around 20 students of the age 12-15 yrs got trapped in a burning building and around 30 students got critically injured.

Being a Jammuite, this incident diverted my attention towards the buildings and the forts of Jammu city, which are about a hundred years old or more. The condition of these buildings makes me shiver while I enter them.

These buildings are in dire need of renovation and not only are a safety hazard to the people residing in them but also to the people nearby. As Jammu and Kashmir is a hilly area and is prone to earthquakes, the state govt. has made some laws regarding the construction of new buildings. They have also laid out strict safety guidelines to be adhered to for maintenance and renovation of old buildings. There are various preventive measures that architects must follow while doing the construction of any kind. But the thing is, there is no authority which would keep a check on whether the rules are being followed or not.

The antique buildings in the old city of Jammu seem to be waiting for a catastrophe. Their condition shows the death of such buildings within not more than a few years.

People in the city area cannot even get out on their roofs and if they do so, they would tangle in the wires over their heads that are crossing their roofs.  As the houses and shops in the city are congested and electricity fluctuation is a common phenomenon, one can only imagine the level of damage to life and property that would occur in case of an untoward incident.

Such incidents usually happen in the blink of an eye and grab the attention of the leaders and the people around. But soon the cries go silent. The question is for how long such avoidable happenings continue to happen?  When would the government take strict action to stop such incidents by taking cognizance of the blatant violation of standard norms of construction and safety measures?

It is said that the institution in Surat was already given warnings for closing the institution as it was made on illegal land and the condition of the building was in such a mess that it needed renovation. There were no safety elements within the building so when the fire broke out, nothing could be done to prevent the loss of life. Despite these things, the institution continued to work with about 100 students. Similarly, the buildings in the old city continue to exist in an unsafe environment waiting for a calamity.

Article contributed by Chetna Sharma

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