Congested business hubs spell trouble

Congested: The narrow lanes with shops and residential complexes in Begum Bazaar area.

Congested: The narrow lanes with shops and residential complexes in Begum Bazaar area.   | Photo Credit: Serish Nanisetti

There are streets in Begum Bazaar area where fire tenders cannot enter even if there are no vehicles

In the inner lanes of Feelkhana, driving a two-wheeler is a challenge. Changing direction, more so. A fire truck or an ambulance in an emergency is out of question. “It will take two persons to move vehicles before a path can be cleared for a fire tender. But there are streets here where the fire tenders cannot enter even if there are no vehicles,” says a police officer in a patrol car parked near the Osmania General Hospital.

How well is the city prepared to handle a fire disaster like the one in Delhi which killed 43 people? “This is a residential area where G+2 is permissible but this building is five floors. Even an RTI application did not elicit a response from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation,” says Muzaffar Ali Soofi, standing near the entrance of a Dargah. The towering building has come up right beside the Naqqar Khana (drum house) of the dargah. “This is the old city. We can do nothing about this, is the response I get whenever I meet officials,” says Mr. Soofi.

The narrow road of Urdu Galli leads into an area known as Rikab Gunj which houses perhaps one of the biggest cottage industry of gold jewellery design, smelting and finishing work. “There are about 3 lakh workers in this industry here, Mahbub Galli and Ghansi Bazaar area. We live here and work here,” says Shaikh Shukoor Ali, who works in a three-storeyed building planted right next to the Reti ki Dargah. As the workers are involved in creating high-value gold products, most of the complexes have single entrances and are kept locked, except during lunch hour or in the night.

These areas are no strangers to fire mishaps. In October 2014, in April 2015 and again in January 2016, there were fire mishaps in the Begum Bazaar-Feelkhana-Osmangunj triangle. The area has a combination of shopping arcades, warehouses, residential blocks, fire-cracker shops and small scale industries scattered in a cobweb of narrow lanes and bylanes. To add to the chaos, two new building have come up in the Old Nimbu Market area. “There was the fire in this fire-cracker shop three years back. Luckily it was a Sunday and there were no casualties. It is scary to think what might happen here,” says Anil Raj Jain, who runs a small shop near Aziz Plaza which is surrounded by wholesale plastic goods shops.

In the absence of zoning regulations and weak laws, these congested business hubs of Hyderabad are a clear and present danger.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 8:43:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/congested-business-hubs-spell-trouble/article30279438.ece

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