Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mumbai fire chief no more

Chief Fire Officer Uday Tatkare (55) died at KEM Hospital last evening. At around 7 pm yesterday, Tatkare's driver Govind Sutar and attendant Ananta Dore rushed him to the casualty ward of KEM Hospital. The casualty doctors on duty swung into action, anxious at not being able to detect his pulse. Senior doctors were summoned to the spot, including the hospital dean Sanjay Oak. Within minutes, Tatkare was shifted to the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) on the second floor of the hospital and put on life support systems. A team of doctors, under the supervision of Oak made several attempts to revive Tatkare. But all their efforts were in vain.

A worried Sutar, who was standing outside the MICU, told MiDDAY, "Sir had attended a meeting at the BMC headquarters. We were returning to his official residence in Chembur. Around 7 pm, my colleague Ananta and I heard sir's mobile ringing. Noticing that he did not answer the phone, we turned round to discover him unconscious. Fearing the worst, we rushed him to KEM Hospital." Soon the news spread like wildfire. Firemen and officers from nearby fire stations flocked to the hospital. His wife Darshana and daughter Hargauri were informed about his hospitalisation.

According to a senior BMC official, "Tatkare was in a meeting at the BMC Head Office to sort out an issue related to the fire department. He had recently been to Finland to inspect the 27 metre snorkel ladder that was to be acquired by the Mumbai Fire Brigade, The new snorkel was to arrive in two months." Waiting outside the MICU was Tatkare's nephew, Sanjay Tatkare, with whom he had had lunch hours before the incident. "I will see you on Saturday," were his last words to his nephew.

According to Sanjay, Tatkare was a vegetarian and a teetotaler, who had never experienced any cardiac problems. A fitness freak, he was very disciplined about his daily morning walk. Sanjay also reiterated that his uncle had nerves of steel, and never buckled under pressure. Sources revealed that Tatkare's daughter Hargauri has just appeared for her Std X examinations. Tatkare, Hargauri and Darshana formed a closely knit family. He had preferred to stay in the official quarters in Chembur until his retirement.

Shiv Sena leader Dagdu Sakpal, who was the first to reach the hospital said, "I was in office in Parel when I was heard that the fire chief had been brought to KEM. Upon reaching the hospital, the doctors informed me that he was no more. It is unfortunate. I knew him as a good fire officer, who would lead the team from the front." A senior police officer from Bhoiwada police station said, "We have registered a case under section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The exact cause of death will be determined only after the autopsy is done on Friday."  Mayor Shraddha Jadhav visited the hospital late last night.

Tatkare had recently initiated the process of recruitment of women fire-fighters and women life-guards. It was under his supervision, that the Mumbai fire officials pointed out the violation of fire safety norms at the Wankhede stadium, leading to an uproar just before the World Cup matches were held at the venue.


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