Shimla, May 2
The High Court today issued notice to the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary (Forest), Principal Secretary HPPWD, Deputy Commissioner Shimla and Member Secretary, Pollution Control Board, in a matter regarding devastating forest fire that broke yesterday near Tutikandi, Shimla and reached Balika Ashram endangering the lives of inmates of the Ashram.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia, passed this order on a petition taken up suo moto by the court as Public Interest Litigation on the basis of news item published in vernacular daily.
The court further directed the state authorities to file their responses by May 23. The news item reported that a raging forest fire that broke near Tutikandi, on May 1 burnt the prime forest land in the city causing immense loss to the green cover. The fire reached Balika Ashram, Tutikandi, Shimla where an art workshop was being conducted under the skill development programme.
At about 1 pm, screams were heard about spreading of fire from the backside of Balika Ashram building and playground. Quick action was taken by the people present, fire brigade was called and authorities were informed.
Taking note of the situation, the children of the ashram were assembled in an open place and infants from the Shishu Grah were brought to the open area away from the smoke. The girls from the ashram showed fortitude and climbed on the water tanks to save the ashram.
It was further reported that the fire-brigade was stuck at Tutikandi bus stand due to narrow road. Fifteen infants were sent to US Club Ashram and about 73 other children were taken to Baldeyan Ashram.
The fire incident took place during day. Had the fire broke out during night, it could have been more devastating and resulted in heavy loss of life and property.
The court has appointed Shrawan Dogra, senior advocate, as amicus curiae to render assistance in this case.