Mumbai

Janata Curfew: sirens unlikely to sound PM’s battle cry today

No guarantee: State officials inspect if a siren installed atop a building in south Mumbai is in working condition.

No guarantee: State officials inspect if a siren installed atop a building in south Mumbai is in working condition.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

State government scrambles to find solution to defunct war-time sirens

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plea to citizens of the country to clap or ring bells following the sound of a siren to appreciate the work of those leading the fight against the COVID-10 outbreak on Sunday may come a cropper in the financial capital.

The State government may not be able to set off sirens in most places in the city because for the past one year it has been sitting on a proposal from the Director General of Civil Defence to overhaul its war-time emergency public siren system. As a result, only 15 to 20 of the 170 sirens atop government buildings will work at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Similar sirens atop government buildings in Nashik, Pune, Thane and Raigad are not in working condition and may not go off on time, officials said.

Mr. Modi in his address to the nation on Friday had urged State governments and administrations to sound war-time sirens to alert citizens to the start of the event. “At 5 p.m. on Sunday, stand at your door, your balcony to express gratitude to those who are working selflessly for all for us. I urge the State administrations to sound the siren in towns and cities so that people can then clap hands, clang on a plate, and in whatever way can thank those who serve us,” Mr. Modi had said.

However, Civil Defence officials said over the past five years they have removed 100-odd sirens from government buildings. The sirens atop police stations, fire brigades and State government offices are not connected to Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited’s (MTNL) cable system, which allowed them to function from a central control room during wars, emergency, terror attacks. These were installed in Mumbai and rest of the State following the Indo-China War in 1962.

Meanwhile, a new central technology could not be produced by MTNL due to lack of funds. “The MTNL was to provide us with a new technology, which would allow us to operate the sirens from a centralised control room. But somehow it did not work out. On Friday, we received a call from the Civil Defence headquarters in New Delhi following the honourable Prime Minister’s speech and we have informed them on the availability of just 10% to 15% of sirens,” said Sanjay Pandey, Director General of Civil Defence, Maharashtra. He added that the proposal for reviving the system was submitted to the Home Department a year ago.

Senior officials of the Home Department said they are considering making alternative arrangements if the sirens do not function. The system will be revived at the earliest. The Mumbai Fire Brigade may transport its vehicles as backup to sound the siren at 5 p.m.

“We will sound the siren with whatever equipment is available to us at the time,” said Sanjay Kumar, additional chief secretary, Home Department.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 7:04:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/janata-curfew-sirens-unlikely-to-sound-pms-battle-cry-today/article31131509.ece

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