Uttrakhand Floods – Strict implementation of environmental laws may have prevented the tragedy

English: Backstage Pass Tour for Wikimedians a...

The Ministry of Environment and Forests’ (MOEF) report for Uttrakhand on Biodiversity and effects of Hydro projects in the state and the CAG report on hydropower development through private sector participation pointed to risks due to the rampant hydropower projects in the state of Uttrakhand. The report by the CAG was for the year 2008-09 and the MOEF report (primarily on effects on biodiversity of the state) was for 2012 .

The salient points / extracts from the CAG report which discusses 42 operational hydro power projects and 203 under construction / clearance stage projects.

  1. Negligence of environmental concerns was obvious as the muck generated from excavation and construction activities was being openly dumped into the rivers contributing to increase in the turbidity of water. The projects seemed oblivious of the fact that such gross negligence of environmental concerns lead to deterioration of water quality and adverse impact on the aquatic biota. (Page 25, Summary). Read more of this post
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Response time of emergency services – Fire Department

IL - Old Shabbona Volunteer Fire TruckToday I saw a fire in a building at Kalina. This Building which had the fire had Bharat Bank at the ground floor and the the “Fire Training Academy’ next to it.

So we immediately did the following –

  1. Called up 101, but as always in India no emergency numbers are ever responded. There was no response on 101 for over 5 minutes
  2. Then to get the number of the local fire station we called up a leading phone directory search engine. The lady responding the call was more interested in my mobile number as opposed to providing the emergency number.
  3. We got the fire station number and called the Santacruz East fire station on their number 022-26829197. To my horror they were least bothered if there was a fire at Kalina.
    • First a person came on the phone to understand where was the fire. They did not know where their training academy was. It took me 2-3 minuted explaining them the detailed location. Then he handed over the call to another person.
    • The second one again wanted to know the exact location. Post which he concluded that ‘THIS WAS NOT HIS JURISDICTION’. To which I inquired atleast give me the number of the fire station under whose jurisdiction this area comes. He was least bothered to help. On pressurizing, he told me to chill out and ‘RELAX’. Anyways after a few minutes he gave me the Marol fire station’s number.
    • I called up Marol at 022-29200940, here the operator was genuinely concerned and informed me that the fire trucks are on its way from BKC. (This fire was not under the Marol jurisdiction).

After a wait of 7-8 minutes the first fire truck arrived (do remember that this fire was just next to the fire academy).  For the next 10 minutes they were deciding what to do. It seemed as if a group of untrained men were sent to do the job. A few more fire trucks arrived after 15 minutes of the call. The actual fire fighting work started after roughly 18 minutes of arrival of the first truck. 18 minutes after arrival ……… such a response time is completely not acceptable for an emergency such as a fire in a building.

In essence, once I called, it took over 30 minutes for the fire trucks to start the fire fighting work. A response time of over 30 minutes in a critical situation of a fire is a new level of low for India for its emergency services.

I will post the videos of the fire trucks at work today evening where you can see for yourself how untrained they seemed at the job.

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