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Minister Sidhu Fire-fights, Flags Off 11 New Tenders

Punjab government had outsourced its fire services to God, as it were. Fire tenders were non-existent even in many sub divisional towns, where, in case of an eventuality these had to be rushed from nearest major towns, taking hours at times, to reach the scene of fire. And still, liberal grants from the central government running into tens of crores were allowed to lapse. Such was the apathy of the government towards an essential service which closely touched the safety of its citizens.

Delivery a revealing commentary on the state of affairs, while flagging off a first batch of 11 new fire tenders, one each for as many tier-1 and tear-2 towns of the state, Punjab Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu enumerated a series of steps being undertaken by the Capt Amarinder Singh led Congress government to literally douse the flames in Punjab.

Minister Sidhu Fire-fights, Flags Off 11 New Tenders, Lifeinchd
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rnPHOTOS BY: LIFE IN CHANDIGARH

He said another 8 vehicles were on the way and will be deployed in other towns by next week to restore semblance of fire services in 15 towns of the state, initially. He complimented the officers of his department for working overtime to procure the fire tenders within a month of a decision being taken.
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rnTo broad base the fire services across the state, and to make the delivery of the services professional, a separate directorate of fire services and a comprehensive Fire Prevention Act was in the works. These, and other matters, will come up for discussion in a special meeting of the state cabinet exclusively on local government issues to be held shortly, Sidhu added.

Minister Sidhu Fire-fights, Flags Off 11 New Tenders, Lifeinchd

Of the 11 fire tenders one each is being moved to Jalandhar, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Dinanagar, Dhuri, Sunam, Faridkot, Nabha, Dera Baba Nanak, Raikot and Nakodar cities. The next lot of 8 vehicles will be distributed among Jalandhar (1 more), Patiala (1), Ludhiana, Bathinda and Amritsar (2 each).
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rnEmphasising the importance the Congress Government was giving to fire services, Sidhu said a ‘Fire Extinguishing Service Week’ will be observed every year from April 17th-21st to bring focus on the valiant efforts put in by personnel of the fire and emergency services in the state.
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rnElaborating on the current status of fire fighting machinery in the state, the minister said the norm is to have a fire tender for every 50,000 population. But in Punjab against the requirement of 550 fire tenders there were only 114, of which only around 50 were in proper working condition. Fire-fighters were also expected to jump into danger zones without proper fire suits. Despite the poor state of affairs, the state government criminally allowed Rs 73 crore out of the Rs 90 crore grant released by the central government for fire and emergency services in the state to lapse. Because of this non-utilization of sanctioned funds, Punjab had been placed in ‘Red Zone’ by the Union Government and the Congress government was now trying to extricate the state from that position, Sidhu added.
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rnSurprisingly, despite high rise buildings dotting the state, the state government had the services of a lone hydraulic ladder-mounted fire tender, positioned in Mohali. The alarming situation will be reversed in the shortest possible time, Sidhu said, adding that the establishment of a separate directorate for fire and emergency services will go a long way in making a headway in this direction.
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rnA host of MLAs from beneficiary assembly constituencies and senior officials of the Punjab local bodies department were present on the occasion.

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