The fire and emergency services committee of the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) seems to have learnt no lesson from four major fire incidents that took place this year. The committee is yet to start the process of insurance cover of its 280 employees.
Earlier, in July, the MC House had approved an insurance cover of Rs 20 lakh for its firemen in case of death during rescuing operations and Rs 10 lakh in case of 75 per cent disability. It was also decided that in case of 50 to 70 per cent disability a firefighter would get Rs 7.5 lakh, and in case of 20 to 50 per cent disability he would get Rs 5 lakh, but the case has not even moved an inch.
It was only after the June 8 inferno in which two firefighters lost their lives following a building collapse while dousing fire at Sector 17 that the proposal for the insurance cover for firefighters was approved.
During a recent fire committee meeting, it came to fore that none of the vehicles of the fire department had been insured. Of total 32 vehicles available with the fire department, 15 are fire brigades, while 17 are other vehicles. The civic body came into existence in 1996 and since then the vehicles have been lying uninsured.
When contacted, MC's chief fire officer Sunil Bhatia said: “We had forwarded the case of insurance cover of employees to the UT administration, but didn't receive any reply. As far as the insurance of the vehicles is concerned, we have floated tenders to invite bids from the insurance companies and the matter will be resolved this month only.”
Speaking to HT, MP Kohli, chairman of the committee, said: “I have instructed the officers concerned to insure vehicles immediately and have also told them to pursue the matter with the administration for the approval of insurance cover of employees.”
He further said officers had not conducted inspection of the buildings in any of the sectors, which was required as per the national building code, 2005. No notices had been issued for any deficiency in the fire safety requirements, as per the Delhi Fire Prevention Act as extended to Chandigarh.
Kohli said the MC had even failed to fix responsibility of officers after the June 8 incident and had not taken any decision to remove debris of building that killed two firefighters.
Earlier, in August 2013, seven members of the committee, after visiting all seven fire stations of the city, made some strong recommendations for its revamp, but to no avail. The committee in its report stated that at least 362 posts of the fire department were lying vacant for the past one decade, but the file is only lying with the UT home secretary and the MC officials have failed to pursue the case.
Also, of 15 firefighters, who were trained in Nagpur after spending Rs 3 lakh each on them, only five are working as firefighters, rest are deployed as clerks.