The Local Government Minister, Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu today flagged off 8 more fire tenders for as many cities/towns as part of the vision of the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh led government to equip the municipalities to effectively deal with any emergency. Recently, the minister had flagged off 11 fire tenders for various cities. The fire tenders were flagged off here at Municipal Bhawan, Sector-35 in the presence of Technical Education and Industrial Training Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, MLAs Mr. Kuljit Singh Nagra, Mr. Harminder Singh Gill, Mr. Sunder Sham Arora, Mr. Rajinder Singh, Mr. Dharampal Agnihotri and ex-minister Mr. Inderjit Singh Zira besides Additional Chief Secretary, Local Government Mr. Satish Chandra and Director Mr. K.K. Yadav. The municipalities which got fire tenders today included Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahar, Samana, Tarntaran, Patti, Sirhind, Zira and Chamkaur Sahib.
On the occasion, Mr. Sidhu said that he is immensely thankful to the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh and further elaborated that the establishment of a separate fire directorate was approved in the previous cabinet meeting for which funds to the tune of Rs. 2 crore annually were also sanctioned. He also said that this landmark initiative was the need of the hour which would lead to the strengthening of fire services in the state. Divulging more, the minister said that the formation of this directorate would result in it being equipped with new vehicles, trained drivers and firemen apart from ultra modern fire suits for the firemen. He also brought out that the department would soon bring a fire services act in the cabinet meeting which would make it imperative for every new building to be constructed strictly as per the fire safety norms.
Giving more details, the minister said that the state earlier had 195 fire tenders out of which 114 had outlived their utility. He also said that the present government has till date dedicated 19 fire tenders in the service of the state. Going in for further details, he said that in order to cope up with the fire incidents, a fire tender after 50000 population is the need of the moment for fulfilling which he has set a target of providing 500 fire tenders during the course of next 5 years to all the cities and towns of the state. He also disclosed that at present only Mohali is equipped with a modernized fire tender having hydraulic stairs which is a necessity for high rise buildings where as no other city has such a vehicle.
Mr. Sidhu added that the department would strive for providing state of the art fire tenders worth Rs. 4 crore to 8 crores for big corporation cities as these would come in handy in case of any emergency concerning high rise buildings. The minister further said that he would strive for providing fire tender worth Rs. 4 crore to the cities with more than 3 lakh population. He said that the priority for soon to be established new fire directorate to render services according to the population of cities/towns.
Lashing out at the previous regime for completely ignoring the fire services sector, Mr. Sidhu said that the amount of Rs. 3.22 crore sent to Punjab by the Union Government under a scheme, which folded up in March 2013, of National Disaster Management but the then government sent a Utilization Certificate (UC) of just Rs. 58 lakh while choosing to sit on the rest of the Rs. 2.64 crore worth UCs during the past 4 years. He also emphatically stated that the department rectify this mess and vigorously pursue the case of funds it gets under the National Disaster Management. He also reiterated his commitment that the Punjab Government is duty bound to provide infrastructural facilities to the people of the state as well as place the emergency situation dealing capability of the state on solid foundations.