Friday, March 16, 2007


In two month and eleven days, Ziro has witnessed a series of fire accident - both major and minor. The March 9th Fire, which completely burnt down eight houses to ashes, could engulf whole Hao po lyang (Hapoli) town if it was not for the timely intervention by public. As usual, the fire fighters didn’t think it was necessary to act promptly. And there were more spectators than the people who actually were allaying the swell of fire as if they were partaking in the bonfire. And, to great extent, they were preventing the voluntary fire fighters from dousing the fire effectively. Under these circumstances, it is becoming an impossible task to have a sound sleep without a worry. Every night, I go to bed with a nightmare that being roasted alive at Ziro is within the bounds of possibility - You never know, when and where the next mishap will take place at Ziro.

It is clear as day that there will be no fire unless the spark to ignite the fuel was not provided. And who furnishes this required spark? Moreover, should they be particularly held liable for such catastrophe? For starters; fire is frequently caused due to negligence and those who think it is safe to leave the fire uncared-for is almost always responsible for the disaster, but at the same time the electrical department is not blameless altogether as many fire-accident cases are reported because of short-circuit. The erratic powers supplies along with fluctuation in voltage seem to be the only reason for short-circuit at Ziro. And it looks like the authorities have no concern at all to rectify it.

There’s no denying the fact that the fire department is having a hard time at Ziro. There could be a thousand reasons for their inefficiencies in dealing with fire-accident, but they have to admit it - their inefficiencies, of course. Their late arrival at scene, as was their wont, only enrages the irate commonalties which further estrange the ligament between the people and the fire department. Furthermore; the denizens of Ziro, strange to say, is so parochial that the parochialism even shows in the way of living also. The houses at villages, Hao po lyang (Hapoli) and Old Ziro town are compactly built (perhaps, even a dog will think twice to pass through it) with materials like bamboo and pine wood. The resin in pine wood is highly inflammable, so are the bamboos when it dries which makes the entire habitation vulnerable to fire. In a typical Apatani house, there will be usually two doors - one in front and the other in back of the house which will steer you to another house. Most of the alley that leads to one’s house is hellishly narrow; if two people pass each other in the alley one are sure to tumble. More importantly, firewood are used throughout the year and consumed with great gusto due to inhospitable (cold) weather of Ziro and cheap source of fuel [sic].

In a recent local weekly, an index of fire-accident was featured, in which the number of house burnt and loss of property was also displayed. It is evident from the fact that the devastation of fire is enormously huge and it also implies that the people of Ziro have not learnt the lesson well enough until now. The resultant: a string of fire-mishap. I believe, it will take another decade for the people of Ziro to grasp the meaning of safety as the development in Ziro manifest that the safeness is secondary to properties. I guess it is not feasible but we, the humans, seems to be seriously thinking that we could Fedexed our property to our new address when we will die and go to heaven or hell. Or am I fool to think that it is not feasible?

The authorities instead of handing out, especially relief money, they could find a practical solution to the problem. They could provide adequate fire engine and efficient fire fighters to tackle another disaster. Some years back when almost entire Hari village was burnt down, beneficiary didn’t get what they should get. It was the influential person who pocketed the lion’s share of relief fund. Besides, Relief money may help a victim in a small way to meet the expense in building new house but that cannot prevent disaster.

To blame a single entity for tragedy would be erroneous and unjust. Therefore, the society (fire-victim, to be precisely) has to own up the largish part of the blame for their carelessness, the government for their apathetic attitude and the bureaucrat for disloyal to their office and duty.

-Roto Chobin


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