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Monitoring fire safety in puja pandals remains a challenging task

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Jamshedpur : Jamshedpur would wtiness 295 Pujas, out of which 220 have licences. Monitoring of fire safety norms in the steel city with a significantly large number of Durga Puja pandals will be a challenge.

According to information the Jamshedpur fire station at Golmuri is facing an acute firemen crunch and for the Durga Puja with only few days left.

“We have only 17 staff (five drivers, 12 fire brigade personnel) and with this strength it is difficult to visit each pandals and carry out survey. We plan to do surveys of 15-20 big pandals before September 30. The survey will commence from September 25,” said district fire officer Ganga Khalko.

Jamshedpur, is arguably only second to Kolkata in terms of hosting Durga puja pandals with as many as 290 big and small pandals dotting the city and its outskirts and as many as 25 fairs near big-budgets pandals in Sonari, Circuit House Area, Tuiladungri, Golmuri and Jugsalai.

Explaining the reason for starting the survey so late, the fire officer said that items like fire-extinguishers, sand buckets and water and other standard safety norms like height and width of structures and gates, electrical wiring can only be seen after September 25 at the pandals.

Concerned over unfortunate incidents of fire breakout in puja pandals past years, during Kali puja, the Jamshedpur Kendriya Durga Puja Samity, (JKDPS), the regulating body of puja committees here, has advised puja committees to insure their respective pandals.

Not just that the puja committees have been asked to take effective fire controlling measures but they have also been urged to get their respective pandals insured by reputed insurance companies.

According JKDPS to the about 95 puja committees had on last year got their pandals insured by different insurance companies and it is expected that this year the figure will cross the 100 mark. “We don’t want to take any risks this time too.Last year’s track record would hopefully motivate the others to understand the benefit of insuring a pandal,” said Ram Babu Singh, general secretary, JKDPS.

The Thakur Pyara Singh Dhurandhar Singh Puja Committee, Kasidih, which is popularly known for constructing costly and attractive pandals since for long said pandal insurance scheme is a relatively new thing undertaken by the committee as a responsible measure.

For the records, the city has witnessed three major fire mishaps at puja pandals in the past. In 2010 a pandal made of coconut ropes was completely gutted in Dhatkidih (near Bistupur), In 2005, a portion of a pandal gutted in a fire at Amrita Apartments in Sonari during Dashami, in 2000 a pandal at Tuiladungri, barely 150 meters from the fire station at Golmuri partially damaged in fire.

“ Yes we are concerned of safety issues. We have informed through pamphlets about safety norms with focus on fire safety to all the puja committee members,” said SDO Prem Ranjan.

Keeping in mind the huge crowds that congregate at various places across the city during the festive season, the police will set up watch towers to ensure safe immersion of idols.

`We are taking all necessary security measures to facilitate the pandal hoppers who will come to the city during Durga puja. The Durga Puja pandals are installed at 290 places in the city. The district administration has already convened meetings with Durga Puja organisers to prescribe a guideline for them.

The puja organisers have been asked to ensure installation of fire fighting system and also to provide identity cards to their volunteers. The norms for entrance and exit points in pandals have also been prescribed,” said an official.

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