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Fire at Butcher Island in Mumbai sets off panic in Vasco

12 Oct 2017 06:04am IST
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12 Oct 2017 06:04am IST
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Citizens claim that Port town is unprepared for fire disasters and authorities don’t have an exigency plan, hazardous mega installations in the urban areas could spark off a fire related calamity

With the fire at the Mumbai Port Trust's oil terminal located off Mumbai coast making headlines, the port city of Vasco, which is sitting on a little petrol and coal bomb, is apprehensive that a major fire disaster is only a spark away

Though the agency investigating the Mumbai fire incident is yet to certify the reason behind the fire it is suspected that the fire was reported after lighting struck the massive cylinder of fuel. Now, assuming that the fire was due to lightning, there are various reasons for the citizens of Vasco to feel scared and worried, said sources. It is very important to note that in Mumbai, the fire was reported in an oil tank located on Butcher Island -- off the Mumbai coast and away from residential area. However, in Vasco the situation is quite different and moreover scary as the oil tanks owned by petroleum companies here are located right in the middle of the city. To add to the citizens’ woes, MPT has also planned to set up another Petrol, Oil & Lubricant (POL) berth at Vasco bay.

The Mumbai fire actually triggered panic amongst the Vascokars. As soon as pictures of the Mumbai fire incident went viral on social media, there were comments such as  “Mumbai today, Vasco Tomorrow’ which too became viral in no time.

“Yes the Mumbai fire triggered immense panic amongst the citizens of Vasco with people posting their reactions on social media. You may take best of precautions but if lightning can spark fire to the oil tanks in the coastal place in Mumbai then the same might very well happen in Vasco. Authorities are not moving oil tanks away from the city but are intending to set up more oil tanks with MPT even proposing to have POL berths right on the threshold of the city. it’s a very frightening situation and a wakeup call that something similar can happen in the port town,” said Vasco based Environment Activist Advocate Savio J F Correia who has been shadowing MPT expansion plans.

“It is obvious that Vasco is sitting on a time bomb because all the major ‘Accident Hazard Installations (AHI) of the state are located in the Mormugao Taluka. Besides, that town has naval armament depot and naval installation that also store explosives, but whether we have a full proof contingency plan is a big question said Deepak Tejam, a social activist from Vasco

Ironically the disaster management plan for the city is very well scripted on paper but in reality the situation is different and the same was proven during naphtha fire incident reported in Vasco several years ago. The inefficacy of the disaster management plan for the city was exposed during the naphtha fire as there was no coordination between the agencies. People were also totally unaware of the plan

 “During naphtha fire, people started driving out of the city due to which all roads got choked. If there is any fire at oil tanks in Vasco the same might also lead to stampede situation” said Nilesh Kumar, a resident of Alto Dabolim.

RTI activist Avinash Tavares pointed out “Oil companies have on site disaster management plans, but there is no coordinated disaster management plan in place. We don’t have a fire unit in Vasco which is trained for chemical disasters”

It is important to know here that the people of Vasco are not against these oil tanks since petroleum products are necessities but they only demand that they should be shifted to a safer environment and away from residential areas.  



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