Residents of Crossings Republik in Ghaziabad certainly have reasons to worry. The area lacks a fire station of its own, despite thousands of flat owners living in over dozens of residential societies.
Every time there’s an incident, fire engines have to come down from nearby stations, which takes time. By the time they arrive at the spot, the fire has either been doused by the residents and the maintenance staff, or the situation has spiralled out of control in the absence of immediate professional help.
Additionally, a recent incident of fire in a restaurant in the commercial area of Gaur Global Village exposed the threats of operating commercial enterprises close to residential areas. And the absence of an independent fire station just added to the crisis.
According to the residents who tended to the flames with just society fire extinguishers, the fire broke out due to a short circuit in the exhaust vent of the restaurant. The kitchen also had several gas cylinders, which were removed by the security guards and maintenance staff of the society.
Sanjay Kumar Jha, a resident and an AOA member of Gaur Global Village, told City Spidey that the fire engine reached the spot about 30 minutes after the incident was reported.
Residents have repeatedly approached the authorities, requesting them to provide land for an independent fire station, but to no avail. The GDA maintains that it has provided space to CIPL, the builder of Crossings Republik. However, according to the builder and the fire department, the space provided isn't sufficient.
After running from pillar to post on the matter, residents approached the court. They filed a PIL in Allahabad High Court, which sought a response from the GDA, the fire department, CIPL and the residents.
Residents feel hopeless, and do not see any immediate solution to the problem — they are helplessly waiting for a disaster to strike.
Officials of the Ghaziabad fire department maintain that an independent fire station is imperative, since the nearby fire stations at Hapur and Vaishali are located at quite a distance, and there is also heavy traffic to contend with.
Commercial activity, such as restaurants, in densely populated residential areas, is an open invitation to fire accidents. However, on being asked about the legality of setting up such activities within residential areas, the GDA responded saying no rules were violated by such activities being carried out in areas demarcated for commercial use.