NMMC to applicants: Over-qualified to fight fires

Updated: Dec 03, 2019, 07:31 IST | Anamika Gharat | Mumbai

Says only a six-month fire course is required for the post, whereas the rejected candidates have done advanced courses

The 20 candidates rejected by the NMMC filed an RTI seeking a reply from the state fire department. Pic/ Ashish Raje
The 20 candidates rejected by the NMMC filed an RTI seeking a reply from the state fire department. Pic/ Ashish Raje

Good and well-qualified fire officers are what we need, considering the kind of fatal fire incidents these men have to fight, but it seems the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) thinks otherwise. Twenty youths who scored high marks in the entrance test for the post of sub-fire officer and also cleared the physical test, have not been hired, because the civic body thinks they are 'over-qualified'. After they filed an RTI seeking an answer from the state fire department, chief fire officer P S Rahangdale said the youths were eligible for the post that NMMC had advertised. However, even then the civic body refused to hire them.

Advanced studies

Six months back NMMC had started advertising for the post and had mentioned three requirements for it – Class X pass-out, a Marathi language course and a six-month course fire course. Accordingly the students had enrolled for the tests and all 20 of them got more than 100 marks out of the total 170. Though their names had appeared in the list of those who qualified, they never received their joining letters. On enquiring, the NMMC additional commissioner told them that they were not eligible for the post, as they had done an advanced fire course. All the students have done one-year courses at the Maharashtra fire academy and National fire institute.

One of the students, Nishant Pawar, son of Rashtrapati Award winner Vasant Pawar, who has fought several dangerous fires in the city, said, "We worked so hard to get good marks in the exam and fulfill our parents' dream but the NMMC had some different plan for the hiring process. They put up wrong advertisements in the first place. Later, when we submitted our documents mentioning that we have done advanced courses, they approved the applications. They even issued a final joining list with our names on it, but they did not give us the joining letters because we are over-qualified. They have wasted six months of our life." Vasant, a leading fire officer, wanted his son to be one, and even though he is suffering from a number of health issues, he spent a lot of his savings for Nishant's fire course.

Burden of debt

Twenty-eight-year-old Gorakh Bahram from Nashik had mortgaged his farmland for the course, as he was expecting to get the job, but now his family members are working as labourers to return the money. He said, "I needed Rs2 lakh for the fire course for which I had mortgaged my land. Everyone was happy when I got good marks and my name appeared on the list of eligible candidates. But NMMC changed their mind at the last moment and we all became jobless. My elder brother, who was pursuing BSc, had to leave his studies midway to save the family from the financial crisis. Several civic bodies are hiring those who have done one-year courses as sub-fire officer. Why does only NMMC have a problem?"

'They are eligible'

After the youths filed an RTI seeking a reply from the state fire department, chief fire officer Rahandale said, "Students of advanced courses are eligible for the post of sub-fire officers." Despite this NMMC did not hire the candidates.

BSc chemistry student Ganesh Kharat, who scored 130 marks in the entrance test, said, "I am good in studies and have scored good marks in the physical exam too, but what's the point? NMMC doesn't want talented students. Forget about my family issues and financial loss, do we seriously deserve this kind of treatment from a government agency and the civic commissioner, who himself is well educated. We are unemployed not because we aren't eligible but because NMMC does not have people who understand the importance of quality. When we asked the commissioner why wasn't it mentioned in the advertisement that candidates who have done only a six-month course was eligible for the job, he replied, 'It's a normal mistake of the advertising department but it was compulsory'. He wasted our six months because of his department's fault. We should all get compensation."

When contacted, NMMC commissioner, Annasaheb Misal said, "We advertised for the post and accordingly hired officers. Further, I will talk to my additional commissioner and let you know about the issue."

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