Late arrival of DFS, BSES 'negligence' agitate traders

Onlookers also create trouble for firemen

 Businessmen in Chandni Chowk’s Kinari Market, whose shops were gutted, are agitated for two reasons: first, “late arrival” of fire tenders and secondly, the alleged negligence by BSES in repairing a “faulty” transformer which caused the blaze.

But it is the latter they are unwilling to forgive as the first problem, they concede, was due to the Monday rush on roads and narrow lanes.

“Every week, we dispatch letters to BSES complaining about this particular transformer. After no response for a long time, the officials paid a visit two months ago. But they did not repair the fault,” alleged Sanjeev Jain, one of the aggrieved shopkeepers who is also a member of the market association.

Robin Gupta, another affected shopkeeper, said another woman had suffered burns at the same spot a few weeks ago when the oil from the transformer had spilled over her. That woman is out of danger now though, he said.

All the shopkeepers in the building rushed out without even downing their shutters as soon as they heard about the blaze. “I jumped over my shop’s counter and escaped. Everything in my stone shop is burnt. I am just relived that I am alive,” Neeraj told Deccan Herald.

Neeraj’s shop was among about a dozen burnt in the blaze. Since the fire began at the ground floor of the building, businessmen and customers on the upper floors of the four-storey building had a narrow escape.

Fire tenders arrived almost an hour after the fire was reported. “Till fire officials arrived, we tried to douse the flames with whatever little water we had in buckets and water filters. It had no impact,” said Neeraj pointing to some empty water containers lying nearby.

Then there was an altercation between the locals and fire officials on how to douse the flames as fire tenders and cranes were forced to station themselves a few hundred metres away from the burning building.

Since an entry into the building was next to impossible, the firefighters were guided into the opposite and the adjacent buildings from where they sprayed water onto the burning portions.

Trouble also came in from the public who gathered in scores to watch men fight the flames. Since the affected businessmen were already agitated over the alleged delay, the firefighters requested one of the local influential persons to control the crowd.

Lalit Kashyap took it upon himself to guide the public using a megaphone, repeatedly requesting them to keep away from the water hoses. “You are stamping on the pipes and that is reducing the force of water. Keep away,” he repeatedly screamed.

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