tinderbox: An aerial view of the congested Sakchi market on Tuesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Sakchi market has turned into a tinderbox, thanks to encroachment by shopkeepers and vendors.
Alarming findings were revealed during a spot assessment by Dhalbhum subdivisional officer (SDO) Prem Ranjan at the city’s oldest marketplace on Monday evening.
Encroachment by shops, vendors clogging pavements, hard-to-reach community facilities such as Sulabh Sauchalaya and inaccessibility of water hydrants were problems identified during the drive.
The inspection was held on the behest of East Singhbhum deputy commissioner (DC) Amitabh Kaushal when fire tenders failed to reach a cloth shop — tucked deep inside encroaching kiosks — where a blaze broke out on Sunday evening.
Fortunately, shopkeepers had displayed presence of mind, dousing the flames with water from community taps, averting a major mishap.
According to SDO Ranjan’s report, there are four major problems in Sakchi market.
“I will submit the report in a day or two to the deputy commissioner. The situation is extremely explosive for a busy marketplace like Sakchi. Even small four-wheelers can’t enter the market, what to speak of fire tenders. I will certainly recommend an anti-encroachment drive,” said Ranjan.
The subdivisional officer further pointed out that most fire hydrants out of 100-odd installed by Tata Steel had become difficult to access owing to encroachment.
“The situation is such that fire tenders may not be able to locate the hydrants at the time of an emergency,” he said.
Representatives from Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) also expressed their concern.
“We have repeatedly apprised the district administration about the encroachment problem, but no concrete step has been taken so far. We can only hope that this detailed assessment will be followed by active solutions,” said Vijay Anand Moonka, vice-president of the trade outfit.
Moonka added illegal vendors sold wares on all days of the year.
This was in violation of a mutual agreement with shopkeepers in 2008-09, wherein squatters were allowed to do business only on Tuesday, the one day of the week when legal shops downed shutters.
East Singhbhum DC Kaushal said after getting an assessment report from the SDO, the administration would seek ways to combat the encroachment menace.
“The administration is assessing the problem minutely. We will find out a permanent solution soon,” he said.
Sakchi market, spread across nearly 5sqkm, boasts over 2,000 land holdings with a large number of shops. This apart, some 1,500 vendors conduct business on pavements.
Which city market is most vulnerable to fire?