Tokobari inferno destroys property worth lakhs
A massive fire which broke out at a plastic goods godown at Haren Kalita Path in Tokobari on November 1 destroyed property worth lakhs of rupees. According to a police official, the fire which broke out at around 10.30 am completely gutted a plastic goods godown filled with plastic items, window nets, superglue chemicals and a few other metal products.
Two adjacent buildings were also damaged in the blaze which lasted for more than four hours. One of the buildings was a double storey which was also used as a godown for plastic goods and the other was a three-storey building inhabited by four families. Except two fire fighters who sustained minor injuries, nobody else suffered any harm from the fire.
The flame could not be doused soon as only 15 fire tenders were pressed into service and only one mini fire tender could enter the lane. Special DGP of Fire and Emergency services, AP Rout said, “The Tokobari road could only allow a 407 fire tender to enter the lane and because of the congestion, the huge tenders were not able to enter the road.”
He said that the hydraulic platform used for dousing wild fire was placed in a different lane and the movable ladders of the platform helped in spraying water on the massive inferno from a distance.
Adding to the complaint, the Tokobari Unayan Committee members alleged that Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) has given permission to some business establishments in the lane which have encroached the main road and constructed commercial establishments without any survey. The cause of the fire is yet to be known and city authorities are investigating the matter.
Local residents allege godown was “illegal”
Local residents have alleged that the plastic goods godown which caught fire was illegal and thriving without any permission from the government. Secretary of Tokobari Unayan Samiti, Prashant Kalita said, “The godown belongs to Lakshmipad Sharma who owns the land and has illegally transformed a residential house into a godown without any permission.”
Kalita further said that even though the godown had plastic items packed inside, the labourers living inside the establishment were seen welding metals on many occasions and they even used to cook food inside the godown which was risky.
Countering the allegations, an owner of a godown said that every house in Tokobari has a godown and the entire locality is surviving because of such businesses. Lakshmipad has a wholesale hardware shop at Aathgaon and uses house number 71 at Haren kalita Path as his godown. Members of Tokobari Unayan Committee have demanded that all illegal godowns should be removed which is seen as the main reason for congestion and pollution.
Authorities to inspect all illegal godowns soon
An official in the fire and emergency department revealed that all illegal godowns in Guwahati will be inspected very soon by a special squad with members from fire department and the local administration.
He said, “The fire department has already written a letter to the deputy commissioner of Kamrup Metro to form a squad which could inspect and find out all illegal godowns in the city and stop them from operating.”
The Tokobari incident bears testimony to the existence of illegal godowns in the city. Local residents have alleged that GMC has always provided permissions to people by accepting bribes. Illegal godowns and factories are found in the entire stretch at Tokobari, Athgaon and Kumarpara. They are engaged in a range of activities from engineering works to repair and production of small items.