Yesterday we had a unique experience.
We have an open ground in front where the road ends in a cul-de-sac and the ground starts. The ground hugs our colony periphery on the south eastern side.
It has been a vacant lot for ever, and the greenery is soothing. A place for birds, and all other small animals. We don't complain, since it gives a lovely mini forest canopy. There was a huge well, where children used to play, fish and swim. But 15 years back some high rise was built on the well and a few Eucalyptus trees were planted in their compound.
There is a nala flowing between our colony, and the high rise .In fact the forest cover gives a respite from the nala overflow and also the stench.
It is needless to say, the high rise residents find it convenient to throw their garbage into the mini forest, and choke the nala from time to time.
Three days back, while I was on the terrace watering the plants, I heard a loud noise, and to my amusement saw one tree, breaking up and falling over some compound walls, over the nala, and lay sprawling on our part of the road.
People who were out running, hearing the bang, were sympathetic, to find a big tree sprawled across. It was also occupying major portion of the road, and vehicles could not pass...
I saw the huge canopy and I requested my domestic help to collect the leaves as much as possible for use in the garden as mulch, and went about my work.
The owners of the tree immediately arranged for cutting the debris and disposing it. It took them almost a day to cut the branches and clean up the road, and workers were quick to finish, by disposing it in the nala!
The normal process could have been, to summon the lorry from Cantonment Office for collecting the tree debris. That would have involved some expenditure.
By chance I heard some noise, and peeped out. To my horror, smoke and flames were leaping out of the forest ground. The flames were some 15 feet high and making cracking noise. I rushed out and saw that, couple of workers were watching the fire, smoking, and chatting on cell-phones.
Hearing the commotion, the neighbours came out rushing. The fire was spreading to the dry twigs and branches. Though it was in the direction away from our houses, there was a danger of it coming towards our homes due to some heavy winds. So much commotion was going on, but no one from the high rise came forward.
They might have been watching from their closed windows and balconies, but they did not respond. I had to shout above the din of noise, that I am calling the fire department and the police.
The workers got panicky when we all shouted, and they started throwing some water. I was shocked that in the wake of water being bought for 1000 per lorry, how can anyone think of disposing a tree by kindling a forest fire?
They started getting some more pipes and some small bucket to pour over the fire. Meanwhile the green trees were fast catching the fire.
I threatened one of the workers that we are going to catch him and hand over to the police for starting such a fire in summer, which prompted others into action. They stared jumping nearer to the fire area and pouring water collected from the nala!
We were also asking, who gave them advice to dispose of such a huge tree into the drainage nala, they pointed out at the high rise"sir".
Once it came to some semblance of control, the man from the high rise in charge of such mighty operation appeared. We lost no time in asking at his plan of setting the neighbourhood on fire, jeopardizing our homes and trees. He coolly defended himself by saying he never told the workers do such thing, and he only asked them to clean.
Clean? By throwing the tree in the nala and chocking it? In case of next rain, our colony will get all the mucky water! He had no answer, but to mumble something else. I had to show restraint, and call for his good senses and educated status(is he really educated ?), to refrain from such careless clean ups such things. The worst is , he did not even apologise!
I found the workers were more responsible and doused the fire and apologised for what happened.
Finally, it irked me that, this is not the first time it happened. Six months back, we were all carrying buckets of water from our homes and dousing the fire. for almost one hour!!We did not know then, who had lit such a fire, now we know who thinks of easy disposals!!!
Just because, we alerted and no loss took place, does it mean we can brush it aside?. I wish people were more responsible and realise how a small careless thoughtless act, might develop into a disaster. And learn to avoid unnecessary loss.
Will anyone listen, I wonder.