Power to the people
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hile the entire state awaited the results of 35, 248 students who appeared for their board exams a tragic incident was simultaneously unfolding involving two young students at Ward 9 Chumukedima.
The death of a Class VIII student Raj Limbu who fell into an open well on April 30 in Chumukedima is tragic in more ways than one.
The incident brings to the forefront several urgent issues that need to be thrashed out for a healthy relationship between the public and the agents of the government.Children falling into wells is not new in India. On many occasions such incidents have dominated news on televisions and newspapers … remember the 2006 case of five year old Prince who fell into a well in Haryana and rescued after 50 hours by a combined combined force of army and firemen from Mumbai ?
There have been several scary incidents after this related to uncapped holes in the ground and open drains …but we don’t seem to learn our lesson. Perhaps we just don’t care, so long as it does’nt affect us.
The well in the incident in Chumukedima it appears has been in disuse for a while as the victim did not die of drowning but of asphyxiation due to gas.
The gas was so strong it undermined the rescue attempts by adult men and a teenager several times.
Only a father’s love for his unconscious son who had tried to rescue a boy younger than himself met with success, ultimately saving his life.
The body of the victim, Raj Limbu was also retrieved by the brave and motivated effort of Imnayapang who did not give up in his effort and successful on his third attempt. Thank God, for the heroes amidst us, ordinary men who given an opportunity and training will prove indispensable when disaster strikes. Simply because they have the quality of courage and presence of mind.
On the other hand the fire brigade which is listed amongst the list of first responders in any disaster has left the public devoid of confidence.
Barely two weeks after the Fire Safety Week observed across the state response of the firemen to the incident in Chumukedima has lifted many an eyebrow.
The firemen who arrived at the scene of the accident on April 30, could’nt have come more ill prepared than they did. Not only was their response delayed , when they did arrive at the site they did so without the most basic of all necessities -a rope. Some of the fire men who accompanied the response team were also reportedly in an inebriated state.
And as for the police, a vehicular mal function delayed their response, and much like the movies the team arrived after the “actions” had ended.
What is of particular concern is to note that the firemen are ill equipt with kits carry out rescue missions. The personnel lack protective headgears, torchlights, fire proof suits… the station according to some sources also do not keep a map of the area they operate in, nor do they have oxygen cylinders.
The department is yet to procure a hydraulic ladder despite the burgeoning of high rise buildings in Dimapur and Kohima, the two most urbanized towns of the state.
Disaster unpreparedness also stares us in the dirt and filth that surrounds us everywhere. The roads, market-places, railway stations, outside shopping plazas, the public toilets, bus and taxi stops and even the highways are converting into a disreputable state of rubbish collectors.
The incident of April 30, must serve as a wake up call that we have got to keep our environs not only clean but safe. The government agencies can’t do it by themselves nor can the public. The two have to come together and this seemingly appears to be the way that will wake up the leaders to hear the people calling.