‘Everyone thinks it will never happen to them; that is the tragedy'
This Thursday, it will be two years since the horrific fire at the iconic Carlton Towers, one of the first high-rises on HAL Airport Road, which killed nine young people and maimed many more.
As the bereaved families prepare to face yet another painful reminder of the cruel day that changed their lives forever, they also seek solace and support in the public service activities that they have engaged themselves in since then.
Public safety lectures
So on February 23, besides the memorial service, Beyond Carlton, the initiative started by survivors and the families who lost their kin, will inaugurate an annual lecture series on matters relating to urban and civic issues with relevance to fire and other public safety in Bangalore.
The first lecture will be delivered by Swati Ramanathan, co-founder of Janaagraha, a non-governmental organisation, at the Indiranagar Club. This year too, Beyond Carlton will give out bravery awards to firemen, who have, during the year, gone beyond the call of duty during fire fighting operations. The recipients, like last year, are nominated by the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services (KSFES).
Also, through the media, Beyond Carlton have requested people across the city to maintain a minute's silence at 4 p.m. to honour the memory of those who perished at Carlton Towers.
In the past year, Beyond Carlton has extended its activities to create awareness on the need for fire safety, and the implementation of existing regulations. Prominent Bangaloreans, including cricketer Anil Kumble and former Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, lent their voice and support to radio bytes that were part of an awareness-building campaign.
Members of Beyond Carlton term their initiatives a “fight against public apathy”. Uday Vijayan, a management executive who lost his young son Akhil Uday in the horrific fire, says it was “extremely painful” to watch the tragedy unfurl at the AMRI Hospital in Kolkata recently. “We realised it isn't just about Bangalore or New Delhi or Mumbai, but about changing the mindset of people and authorities across the country,” he emphasised. “Everyone keeps thinking that this won't happen to them, until it does; the biggest hurdle is this.”
The group has been talking to residents' welfare associations and working with them to create awareness on the new fire safety rules and regulations. “It's a long journey,” he said. The challenge is to wake up every day and know that things haven't yet changed. “But we are hanging in there.”
First lecture will be by Swati Ramanathan, Janaagraha co-founder, at Indiranagar Club This year too, Beyond Carlton will give out bravery awards to firemen
First lecture will be by Swati Ramanathan, Janaagraha co-founder, at Indiranagar Club
This year too, Beyond Carlton will give out bravery awards to firemen