‘Kumbh held with no fire safety plan’

The 120-page study report has been prepared by JK Singh,Deputy Director,in-charge of Kumbh Mela Fire Services,and Animesh Singh,Chief Fire Officer of Kumbh Mela.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow | Published:May 14, 2013 2:14 am

The 55-day-long Kumbh Mela in Allahabad,which the state government claimed to have organised successfully,lacked “organised integrated approach to the planning of fire services for such huge congregation and erection of temporary structure”,says a report prepared by two fire officers who were deployed at the mela.

The 120-page study report has been prepared by JK Singh,Deputy Director,in-charge of Kumbh Mela Fire Services,and Animesh Singh,Chief Fire Officer of Kumbh Mela.

Citing the need for such a report,the two officers said: “We were assigned additional work at Kumbh fire services without any experience,document or data in hand about previous Kumbh mela fire service management. We were moving in dark. During the journey of on-the-spot planning,operation,monitoring,evaluation and supervision,so many legal,administrative and budgetary constraints were experienced.”

The officers went on to point out how the operation of fire services for Kumbh mela area — 58 sq km — was divided into six zones and 15 sectors,irrespective of principles of trigger mechanism,quick response and least travel distance. “When this important issue of establishment of fire stations at desired strategic locations was discussed with administration officials,they expressed their inability to provide alternate land,” says the report.

It points out that 70 per cent of fire incidents at Kumbh Mela took place either due to leakage of LPG or electrical spark. Out of 61 fire incidents reported during Kumbh Mela,23 occurred due to electrical spark,19 due to leakage of LPG,and the remaining due to other causes like smoking,negligence and bonfires.

During study of these fire incidents,officers came to know that maximum number of fire incidents due to use of LPG cylinders took place in individual kitchens,rather than community kitchens. “To avoid such incidents,wiring needs to be done as per BIS standard and only certified LPG cylinders should be used. Petromax or small LPG cylinders of 5kg capacity should be banned. The entrance and exit to the tents and pandals need to be as per standard,” the report added.

Deputy Director JK Singh said: “On January 25,a major fire had left about 19 people injured and six dead. The fire had occurred due to leakage of LPG in an individual tent.”

He said that officers tried to create awareness,but since the area was so huge and even individual tents were allowed to cook food,the task became difficult. He said that after analysing the difficulty in proper management,they have recommended the concept of community kitchen for future melas.

“It should be made compulsory to cook food for devotees and kalpwasis at selected and earmarked places instead of making food at different places,” the report suggested.

The officers have also recommended formation of draft Uttar Pradesh Fire Service bill to deal with modern constraints and challenges.

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