In tinderbox Darjeeling, a fire hydrant appears to have been done away with, once again.
Locals on Sunday circulated photographs showing that a fire hydrant along Nehru Road had been removed during the construction of a shopping complex.
Nehru Road leads to Chowrasta and is the address of famous eateries like Glenary’s and Keventers.
“Darjeeling is always vulnerable to a fire. We now find that a fire hydrant has been removed to make way for a shopping complex. How can the municipality allow such acts?” said a local.
Many others in Darjeeling echoed similar sentiments as the hill town had as many as 113 fire hydrants in the 1950s. Now, there are only about 20.
The high density of fire hydrants in Darjeeling was largely due to the fact that hill roads are narrow and fire brigades cannot access every part of the town.
“The roads have become even narrower but the hydrants have been removed, encroached on or illegally converted into drinking water supply points,” said a retired civic employee. Darjeeling is among the world’s most densely populated mountain towns.
The builder of the shopping complex, however, said that a fire hydrant would be put in place in the area.
“The complex is being built and proper firefighting measures have to be put in place. We will definitely build a fire hydrant,” said Dawa Sangay, the builder.
The complex is coming up on a plot where the Shangri-La hotel once stood. The hotel was razed in a fire on March 4, 2021.
The British-era building made of stone masonry and wood was called Carburry House. Darjeeling Properties Limited bought it from Rosa Rebecca Rosamund in 1943, said Siddharth Gyalsen, one of the directors of the company.
When the fire occurred, the building was on rent with a family that had been running it for two generations.
Told about the complaint by the locals, Dipen Thakuri, the chairman of the Darjeeling municipality, said hewas unaware of the development.
“I will look into the matter tomorrow,” Thakuri said.
The police in Cooch Behar seized 44 buffaloes from two container trucks on the Bengal-Assam border on Saturday night and arrested three persons.
Police sources said the trucks were intercepted at the Bhangapakri checkpoint in Baxirhat. As the vehicles were searched, the cattle were found inside.
“None of the drivers could furnish any document to validate the transportation of the buffaloes, which they were carrying from Bihar to Assam. They were arrested,” said a police officer.