Marshals deployed to guard lakes and keep the city clean say they are seriously under-resourced. They have neither firefighting equipment nor safety gear to combat fires in lakes and mounds of garbage.
The state government first appointed marshals to guard Bellandur Lake, the city’s biggest, in February 2018. Presently, 21 marshals have been working different shifts to guard the lake which is spread over 370.30 hectares in southeastern Bengaluru. The BBMP has shifted 200 marshals from Indira Cantees to different wards to check litterers following a high court directive.
Marshals say combating fire accidents is a daunting task with the available resources. They use bunches of dry grass and tree trunks for the purpose. This technique is used by forest guards to beat wildfires.
A marshal underscored the need for proper equipment given the risk involved in firefighting. A proposal approved by K J George, the then Bengaluru development minister, to provide them with firefighting equipment has been lost in red tape, the marshal added.
Marshals need 10-15 fire extinguishers, 10 fire beaters and mini-cylinders that can be carried on motorbikes to the scenes of fire. “It takes time to take big fire tenders to the spot because of uneven and narrow roads. We lose 20-30 minutes, leading to the further spread of the fire,” according to the marshal. “Small extinguishers are required to control the fires as soon as they start.”
Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) Commissioner Rakesh Singh has promised to meet the demands at the earliest. The BDA is responsible for the upkeep of the lake.