Ever heard of a surcharge for the fire brigade? Well, here’s a case in point. Despite Ghuma-Bopal borough being included into the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s limit three years ago, officials at the fire brigade services, it seems were not apprised of the same.
Ghuma resident Rajendra Nagarchi dialled 101 as an SOS call at 4.37 am on Thursday to press for the immediate deployment of a fire engine only to be told that the “live-saving service” would come against a tariff. Why? “Because Ghuma is not within AMC jurisdiction,” he recounts the apathy.
Despite a heated argument, the officials refused to acknowledge the merger. Realizing the futility of the situation, Nagarchi disconnected the call and joined others to fight the fire blazing in their neighbour’s house on Laxmichand Avenue.
The residents managed to save the lives of the elderly couple but were shocked to hear that the fire and emergency services had demanded a fee to come to Ghuma. “We just paid our taxes. Is it worth nothing? How can they not know that Ghuma is part of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation?” asked an agitated resident.
Narrating his ordeal, Nagarchi stated: “I woke up to desperate shouts for help. A fire had broken out in Shankar Patel’s house on the second floor. His son, Dilip, lives in the flat opposite ours. I dialled the fire helpline, and they said we would be charged for the service as Ghuma was not within AMC limits. How can the AFES discuss service charges when people are battling for life?”
Echoing the same strain, Dilip, 37, shared: “My parents are senior citizens. One of our neighbours, who woke up early, spotted smoke emanating from my parents’ flat and raised the alarm. We used the society’s fire equipment to bring the fire under control.”
The municipalities of Bopal and Ghuma were merged with four wards – Jodhpur, Thaltej, Bodakdev and Sarkhej – in 2020. A new fire station is also being made operational in Bopal-Ghuma.
When asked to comment on the matter, Hitesh Barot, chairman, AMC Standing Committee maintained that a detailed explanation has been sought. “Bopal-Ghuma were merged into the AMC more than two-and-a-half years ago. We will deal strictly with the defaulters,” he added.