Saturday, July 23, 2011

Safe City, whose responsibility is it?

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.... Abraham Lincoln.

Each day when we read news about a blast or things like that most of us must be thinking who is next & where? I think generation of this question in itself is a victory of the forces behind such incidences! Nothing wrong about our mind set but important is its each of ours job to ensure for not letting such things happens.

Here I remember a story of Akbar-Birbal...
Once on their routine rounds around city in disguise Badsha asked Birbal, what is the best weapon? Birbal replied the one which is at hand in crisis! Badshah wasn't satisfied with the reply & they continued their walk. Suddenly a small commotion break up as an elephant got wild & making his way from a busy bazar road thrashing whatever coming in its way. Many people were trying to control him with weapons & the tries were futile as elephant wasn't coming under control by any weapon. He was charging straight towards the duo, confused Badshah was looking towards what to use as there was no way to run, Birbal suddenly grabbed a stray dog running past & threw it to the elephant! It hit the elephant straight at head & with this sudden charge the elephant got bewildered & calm down! Birbal just looked at Badsha & smiled! The Badsha has understood the lesson!

Well this was a story after all but when ever we think of crisis management it has a great meaning. When ever we think about such incidences a crisis management consists of two way action plan, one is what we are doing for not allowing such things to happen & second is what arrangements we have after such thing happens? Agreed as Birbal has said the weapon at hand is best but what we will be having at hand & how we will be using it, a little planning does help as not all are as witty as the great wise man! On this background let's see what happening around/

Not necessary that every time there will be a blast there can be earth quake, flooding due to heavy raining, a fire & any natural calamity can hit us! A good city isn't just IT parks or Gardens or Monuments but a good city is the one who assures safe life for its citizens & its high time for our beloved Pune to understand this & do little self assessment on these standards. We do read mock drills by the police at various places but is the outcome really assessed & the lacunas get covered after the post mortem? This never comes to public. I think authorities needs to think on this front. Even a advanced country like Japan can get hit worst which we saw recently but what was not highlighted or studied is the way they have faced that blow. Wouldn't it help if the authorities send their officers there post quake & make a detailed report how they are recovering & reacted & mind, its not just government but role of private segment also as the quake doesn't recognize whether you are private or govt establishment. On this background how many of corporate sector who can afford has sent or thought of doing so how the private sector has been prepared for such disaster & how they have faced it? I don't think at least don't know any body has even given a thought. We visit foreign countries for pleasure but never for this angle! This is what is lacking in our attitude. Simple things like what kind of precautions one should take in our day to day life if we make a questioner & share around I am sure not many will like the outcome as we indeed are ignorant on this front & then we blame everybody from Govt to Politicians!

The city has many areas where we have witnessed the fire pumps couldn't go during fire why we don't have a separate fire water line net work around such developments which can be used at times of fire where the tankers can’t go at crisis & people have lost lives. We haven't yet identified list of such places, to my knowledge & if it is there the list has been never published. Because if we are not even listing down the places where a crisis can happen how we are going to make people aware about the same or make a action plan what to do at such times? Agreed no planning should have been the way some areas have been developed but now when we have accepted the facts, question is what we are doing with what we have at hand? The New DP as well the existing DP which is under making must have such localities marked with different color i.e. zone along with the provision for separate infrastructure at the time of crisis. Especially slums as well gaothns  should be carefully studied & arrangements like fire water lines, marking of emergency escape routes, medical aid & open spaces around should be made available & kept clear always. Same thing about a balanced stock of various things right from blankets to clothing should be kept ready & in all zones of the city, at least some basics which can be used as first course of action after the natural calamity strikes.

Even in new projects now they are making two staircases compulsory for building more than 15 meter heights (well that is a joke as the kind of construction we have in residential building there are very few chances of spreading fire) but at the same time in big complexes as well commercial complexes not only fire staircase but fire ways should also be marked which can be used in calamities like earth quake. Thanks god at least we dont have to worry for chemical calamity like Bhopal yet dont forget about the organizations like HEMRL as well ERDL which deals with heavy explosive material. Long back they were away from city but now with western subarbs developing, thee establishments are now either surrounded by residential growth or on the boundary of it. So one has to be always ready for something which hasn't happened yet!

Last & foremost is the coordination between various departments! We saw few days back when the discharge from the Khadakwasala increased the Bhide bridge went underwater & with all prior warnings from irrigation department yet number of cars get flooded! What bigger mockery then crisis management we need to prove how much improvement is required at this front in the city! And remember it was controlled known flood! Imagine something happening out of blue & suddenly we will find looking at each other. Mock drills are conducted by the Police for Bomb threat or Terrorist attacks but what about such drills for natural calamities & where is the account of the outcome? How many common citizen’s have been trained or given exposure for such times? Sadly our exposure is restricted to Inet & Tv, god bless what will happen when we have to face something in actual. And what is worst part is exactly whose responsibility is this, that no one knows!

A good city is the one which makes the citizens at peace by the infrastructure it provides & attitude of the rulers towards such issues, as in this era no Birbal will be coming to our rescue in crisis! As the great man Lincoln has said, need of the time is to put up the realty to the people! Till then we all have one such Birbal in us, lets wake him up & use it in advance, is the true care we will be taking for our own self as well for the city.

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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