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According to Zaidain, a team of expertise is to monitor the prices, not only that of milk, but also that of cattle and fodder. Sub-committees have also been formed for keeping in check prices, he added.

Reports say that even though the city govt has managed to bring down the prices in most areas, there are still some areas such as North Karachi and Nazimabad where this has not taken place.

More specifically, milk shops in smaller lanes and alleys have not been checked neither have the area people filed any complaints in fear of no action being taken. For this, Zaidain says, the patrolling committee will be dispatched today (Tuesday). In case of the government’s prices not being followed, a major crackdown on milk dealers would be initiated.

The writ of government seems to have been established up until now, but the fact is that the move was made slow and there is still a lot of work to be done in order to maintain prices at one level. The real test of the government scheme will be tested in the upcoming weeks. Because of the rise in the price of milk, other dairy products and commodities have also suffered an unprecedented rise.

Karachi is the only city that faces such drastic price fluctuation and immediate and effective action is needed to relieve the citizens from this economic burden.

(By Xari Jalil, The News-4, 09/01/2007)

When the firefighters came late

KARACHI: Once Azra Lodge stood proudly in the street just like any other house, with its whitewashed walls and swank appearance. Now it stands black, forlorn, and decrepit, boasting of nothing but the death of two people, husband and wife. The recent incident of the fire in Bahadurabad is a tragic story, not only because of the deaths, but also because of the lackadaisical attitude of the fire brigade.

On January 11, around 8 in the morning, the Ilyas family woke up to have breakfast. The two brothers’ wives, Sana and Nazia, were getting their children ready for school. The three children left, and the rest of the family began their breakfast. The next thing that happened was the least expected. The entire family were enveloped in flames, leaping higher and higher towards the ceiling, and soon, nothing except the intense blazing heat could be felt by the family. All four were trapped.

Help came only from their next-door neighbours, who had seen this happening. They informed the Bahadurabad Police Station about the fire, and then the rest of the family were called.

Shakeel Atteqi, a close relative of the Ilyas family, said that they made eight to ten calls to Madadgar 15, and the fire brigade. The brigade arrived an hour after the entire house was in flames, and the four people trapped inside different rooms of the house. When the fire engine finally turned up, they lacked proper equipment, and their efforts were in futility.

“The pipe was torn in ten places,” Atteqi remarked angrily, “They aimed at one point, but water would be spraying out in other places. The men did not have the requisite fire-fighting attire, a clear indication of their non-serious attitude towards their work. They wore slippers, they didn’t have any kind of fire protecting costume, and none of them bothered to even step inside the house, although they knew that people were trapped inside.”

Atteqi says it was a surprise to them when they saw the Bahadurabad police who helped them the most. Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Mohammad Khan, as well as the Bahadurabad UC Nazim, Rasheed, risked their lives by entering the burning house and rescuing the family trapped there, while the fire rescuing party stood there as virtual idle onlookers.

“The fire brigade had no hammer, no torch, no protective clothing,” says another relative of the Ilyas family. “We had to call up Edhi, and the Edhi team arrived promptly, took active participation in helping the injured into their vans and taking them to hospital.”

But two of the family members, Asif Ilyas and his wife Nazia, were in a bad state. Asif’s younger brother Kashif managed to stay conscious somehow and breathlessly told the rescuing team about his brother and sister-in-law being stuck inside. When the bodies were taken to the nearest hospital, the ECG showed a level line: Asif and Nazia had both died of suffocation.

“They were both stuck in their rooms, Nazia in the bathroom,” says Atteqi shaking his head sadly. “If the brigade would have gotten here earlier, they could have been saved.”

Kashif and his wife Sana were saved, although Sana is still in hospital. Neither was in a state to be questioned, nor was their old mother who also was rescued unhurt. But the entire first and second floors were nothing but a black shell, smelling of burnt plastic and wood. The family’s assets and personal property was burnt to ashes, including their television, their chairs, beds, and other furniture.

ASI Zulfikar of the Bahadurabad police station says that the fire had started out because of a short circuit, of what was obvious until now. He says it was a coincidence, a short circuit could occur anytime. He agreed that had the fire brigade been on time, the couple could have been saved, but according to him, the brigade does not have proper resources either, which should be provided by the government. But who could explain all this to the two small school-going children that Asif and Nazia have left behind?

(By Xari Jalil, The News-2, 14/01/2007)

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