A silent work to upgrade the fire and emergency services department that was lying in shambles for years is the biggest contribution of Javed Ahmed Khan, the most trusted lieutenant of Mamata Banerjee. Five years of hard work has earned him the name of ‘first modern man of the department’ by its employees. Changing an obsolete department into a modern one is not an easy task and Khan’s greatest happiness is to earn faith of the people on fire services. The sitting MLA and TMC candidate from Kasba Assembly seat was praised equally by the people from the constituency for the development works undertaken in the area. Taking time out of his busy schedule, Khan shares his future plans with Pritesh Basu.
What are your developmental achievements in the area in the past five years?
A: There are both slums and highrises in my Assembly constituency. Earlier, during the Left Front regime, only residents of the highrises used to get sufficient supply of drinking water. Now, after construction of water treatment plants, supply of drinking water has been assured to both slum dwellers and residents of the multi-storeyed buildings. Moreover, I gave emphasis on neat and clean roads and to streamline the water logging problem utilising the MLA fund. There are places where water used to remain logged for more than 10 hours during the monsoon season. Now it takes only half-an-hour or so for the rain water to get cleared from those areas.
Are there any existing problem in your area that you would like to solve if again voted to power?
A: Yes, still there are some wards of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation in the Assembly constituency where the supply of safe drinking water is a major issue. CPI(M) councillors in those wards deprive people from this facility just for the sake of political benefits by maligning Trinamool Congress government.
What new projects would you like to take up for further development of the area?
A: My first target after coming to power is to set up more colleges and schools here. There is only Naba Ballygunge College but there it doesn’t have sufficient seats to accommodate so many students from here. Two schools – VIP Nagar School and AH Academy – have got affiliation by the Madhyamik Board.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement being the state’s Fire minister?
A: People had lost faith in the fire department in the past 34 years. My biggest achievement was to regain their faith. It has happened because of steps taken to modernise the department. Fire fighters reaching late to the spots had been a regular complaint five years ago. Now the problem has been solved. All the fire tenders are GPS enabled. Thus, firefighters do not need to waste time in searching the spot. Huge buildings are coming up in the city so fire fighting equipments considering such buildings were bought. At the same time small fire fighting vehicles were introduced to enter narrow lanes in the city. Such vehicles are made available even in rural areas.
How is the West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services department a step ahead of other such units in the country?
A: West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services Department is the only fire department in the country whose fire fighters put on fire-proof uniform while performing their duty. Using the uniform, fire fighters do not get burnt when exposed to the flames.
What are your future plans if you become the fire minister again?
A: To set up fire stations in all 341 blocks in the state and based on survey reports there are also plans to keep portable pumps in BDO officers and local police stations in vulnerable areas. The pump trained personnel will initiate the fire fighting before fire tenders reach the spot.
Do you feel that the alliance between Congress-CPI(M) will leave any mark here?
A: (Giving a smile) Congress workers were hurt with the decision to join hands with CPI(M). In protest many are joining Trinamool Congress. So I would like to say that it has helped us instead of causing any damage.
Your contender CPI(M)’s Shatarup Ghosh is campaigning through social media. What is your reaction?
A: There is no ethical value in campaigning through social media. How can people know you until you go and meet the person personally? There is no alternative of meeting personally as then only you can come across their problem.
Besides being a politician, you are well known for your social service. Does this help you in politics?
A: Social service is in my blood. My forefathers had been serving the society for the past 200 years and I am also not an exception. Social service and politics are closely related. This makes you more acceptable to the people.