Nine people lost their lives and over 60 were injured in the fire that broke out in Carlton towers on 23rd February 2010. Four years later, how safe are our buildings, especially high-rises, from the perspective of fire hazards, is a question that needs to be urgently answered.
The Beyond Carlton Memorial Lecture this year, saw Rajya Sabha MP and Chairman of Namma Bengaluru Foundation, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, speaking on ‘Making City Government Agencies Accountable for Public Safety’.
Rajeev started his talk by mentioning that the significance of an event such as the Carlton Tragedy, while painful to those affected, served as a reminder to our city and government that they need to take necessary actions to prevent such tragedies in future. He added that most people suffer from ‘short term memory’ and tend to forget very soon such tragedies.
He raised the question of whether Bangalore was a safer city – to everyone including women and citizens in general – given the unfortunate decline in the standard of living of the city in the recent past.
“Cities exists for the citizens…Living safely is a very simple aspiration… there should be proactive planning.” he added.
Rajeev touched upon the factors affecting emergency services including resource crunch (even though funds had been sanctioned), generic lack of training and inadequate infrastructure support.
He also talked about how the ‘Akrama Sakrama’ scheme of the government was not forwarding the cause of safety, and was instead legalizing illegal constructions, thanks to the political connections the builders had – an act that could cause harm to many people in the long term.
Rajeev concluded his talk by mentioning that citizenry and groups must get together and work towards building a safer Bangalore and that they must persevere in their fight. Push back from citizens and well meaning media was important.
Post his talk, Rajeev and a few members of the Beyond Carlton group honoured the following firemen who were nominated by the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services (KSFES) for the bravery awards:
- H Ramabadraiah
- G H Nagaraju
- Anil Kumar