India — We have heard of forest fires, but ever heard of an urban fire? Well, the residents of ST Bed Layout, off the Koramangala-Domlur Inner Ring Road, complain of recurring fires on a vast barren land in the neighbouring Army area. At around 3.30 pm on Saturday, thick smoke had engulfed the area due to a fire on some patches of land, making the area look like a war zone. The blaze raged for a couple of hours.
Residents say it wasnt the first time, but a regular feature. With fire raging frequently, residents are complaining it isnt just a source of air pollution; it has become impossible to stay indoors.
I have been living here for the past five years and every year around this time – end of January – I see dry grass being lit up an activity that goes on till March, said Krithika Akkaraju, a resident of Esteem Royale Apartments.
On January 24, the fire began at around 3 pm and continued till 8 pm. Dense, acrid smoke and ash entered the apartment complexes, leaving residents with no choice but to leave the area for a few hours.
Krithika faced a similar situation last year and took up the matter with the Army and the fire department. The fire department staff said they are not authorised to enter the military area.
The Army personnel claim these fires are accidental. Last year, I was assured by the Army they will be on the lookout and the incident will not be repeated this year. Yet, there has been no respite. I filed a complaint with Pollution Control Board but in vain, said Krithika.
Sarah Kurien, who lives in a house adjacent to the compound wall of the Esteem Royale Apartments, said: Every year during summer, overgrown grass is set afire. The way it has been done, it doesnt seem like an accident. No effort is made to put out the blaze. There are apartment complexes that share a boundary with the land in question and for them, the fire could pose danger.
Esteem Royale Residents Welfare Association president Vikram Zibbu said the area being Army land, it is beyond the purview of the police or the fire department, making it a complex issue to resolve. It is a major cause of concern for residents living in the vicinity. Due to the breeze, fire spreads fast and we are not equipped to handle big fires.
Bangalore Mirror tried to contact the Army authorities, but there was no response from them.