In the aftermath of Saturday’s fire that burned down a building in Kalbadevi, a group of college students lent a much-needed helping hand to the police in their struggle to keep the crowd and passing traffic under control. Some of the volunteers stayed at the spot for over 16 hours, using their experience from similar emergencies such as the Mantralaya fire, Dockyard building collapse and even the Zaveri Bazaar bomb blasts, where they had also helped out. The students are all part of KC College’s National Service Scheme (NSS) wing and had been trained at disaster management workshops held at the institute every year.
One of the volunteers on the spot, Sagar Mehta (22), an MSc student at the college said, “I have been here for almost 18 hours now. I had also volunteered after the Mantralaya fire, the Dockyard building collapse and during Ganpati visarjan. It is an uplifting experience.”
This year, the college has a good 300 students enrolled for the workshop, titled ‘Aavhan’, where students undergo training in crowd management and traffic control for a week. The training session is dedicated to handling natural and man-made disasters, and volunteers are even trained for events such as Ganpati visarjan. A student can apply and stay a member of the programme for two years, during which he or she will have to contribute 120 hours each year.
While Mehta is in his sixth year with the programme, another Nikhita Nisthala (20), a third-year BA student is in her first. “I’m working at such a site for the first time. Before this I had worked during Ganpati visarjan. It is hard work,” she said. On the day of the fire, 12 volunteers were sent to the spot, while six were deployed the next day. As and when the need arises, the students will continue to the help the police over the coming days.