Fire training is a must
What is the most significant lesson from the recent Mumbai fire tragedy? It is an issue that law enforcers, regulators and media have missed. There is no training in schools and colleges as to what should be done in emergencies a common man would meet — like in many foreign countries. Such training is only a part of specialised organisations like armed forces, police etc whereas everyone should know what to do. There are no fire drills, no exercises and no mock training programmes where right from the time you are a student you are made aware of what to do and how to behave in case of an emergency. We don’t even pay attention to the safety precautions told before an aircraft takes off.
Many years ago, there was a big fire at a five-star hotel in upscale Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. So many people died. But the Japanese and American guests at the hotel survived. Why? Because they put wet towels under the doors so that smoke and carbon monoxide does not enter their rooms. They put wet handkerchiefs on their faces and lay on floor as the smoke moved up. Most deaths are caused because of smoke, not fire. All the Indians in the building jumped out of their windows or trapped themselves in rooms and died. In the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, a team of South African commandos dining in the Taj took out all the guests in a restaurant safely.
The critical difference is awareness which comes with education and training. Our education fails even the rich. How may in those bars even knew where the exits were?
T R Ramaswami, Mumbai
Solar is future
With reference to your article, “Solar power: Some bright spots, many clouds” (December 30). Solar power is both cost-effective and environment-friendly. It also falls in line with international agreements entered in to control atmospheric pollution. Expenditure incurred on setting up solar power projects should be considered as capital expenditure due to its long-term benefits. Administrative delays in following up on tenders should be minimised to ensure that frequent changes in market pricing do not prove to be a hindrance in executing agreements already entered into. It is a short-sighted approach to explain delays in implementation or non-execution of existing contracts on account of falling tariffs and introduction of Goods and Service Tax. It is a breach of contract.
Further, going back on agreements already executed discourages suppliers apart from increasing litigation costs and denting our international image. It is however, heartening to note that a positive change of approach is forthcoming in this regard with rate of returns stabilising at 9-11% thereby attracting investment in renewable projects. Maximising the consumption of solar energy should become a State policy to ensure a continuous change of direction to promote the process. It will in this process further improve our sovereign ratings. It will also stand us in good stead among the community of nations pursuing the cleaning up of atmosphere for the common good.
C Gopinath Nair, Kochi
This is with reference to the recent outcome on the “triple-talaq” debate. It is a welcome sign that was long overdue much like the Child Marriage Act. While in the former, the children stand to suffer most with parental sustenance and care abruptly cut off. In the latter, the childhood of the girl is usurped by elders on both sides. Thus, there are many partners in the crime. The point of note is that Muslim women too can pronounce triple-talaq, a gender parity of sorts, and would as well stand to be awarded a three-year prison term. The Child Marriage Act only has a three-month jail term as a deterrent. It would perhaps serve the causes better in both cases, if the provision of the jail terms are exchanged in the two Acts.
R Narayanan, Navi Mumbai
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