News from Nadia

Firefighter’s 58 Km Daily Bicycle Ride For Duty In Covid 19 Lockdown

Sunandan Karmakar

Santipur, March 29: As a firefighter, 52 year’s Sunandan Karmakar of Nadia’s Chakdah always prefers to face the odds as a challenge.  So when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown to fight the deadly coronavirus disease even suspending the train service, he hardly became concerned about how to reach his office – Santipur fire station.

Since the train service was suspended to prevent mass transmission of the disease, Sunandan Karmakar, a fire operator-cum-engine driver (FOED) attached to Santipur fire station has been attending his duties overcoming 29 km riding his bicycle.

“I am in an emergency service. It hardly matters to me if trains are not running or bus service has been suspended. The simple fact is that I have to reach the fire station to attend duty in time”, said Karmakar.

The firefighter, to whom cycling was a passion, has now become a medium to overcome the odd situation. For the past one week, Karmakar has been regularly cycling around 58 km to reach his office and to return after day’s work. It takes around two hours to complete the journey in one end.

“Cycling about 58 km in a day is definitely a very laborious job. But, I am well habituated with cycling. I take a break after reaching Ranaghat which is about 13 km from my home located in Khos Bas Mahalla (KBM) area of Chakdah town. I only do not return on the same day if I assigned two consecutive schedules including the night shift”, Karmakar said.

Santipur fire station has 19 staff including the in-charge fire officer. Most of these staff are residents of adjacent districts, who take a break on a rotational system. However, the lockdown has robbed their leave. There are a few staff who come from Santipur and adjacent areas riding their motorcycles from home. But, Karmakar is the only one who has been attending the office during the ongoing lockdown crossing such a long distance on the cycle.

“I usually catch a train to attend duty in Santipur. It is a journey of about 45 minutes. The lockdown has only made a difference in the journey time. I am least bothered about the pain of the journey”, told Karmakar who was found busy in disinfecting the Santipur state general hospital.

In charge of Santipur fire station, Shyamsundar Pandit said, “I am moved about the dedication of Sunandan Babu. He has shown an impeccable responsibility”.

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