Allowing the petition filed by Congress Legislature Party leader Sunil Jakhar, seeking directions to the state government for providing fire-extinguishing equipment, fire tenders and staff across the state, the Punjab and Haryana high court has granted a month's time to the state to take a decision.
The directions came from the division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Arun Palli on Wednesday.
Taking notice of the contentions raised in the petition, the court said, "The respondents would especially deal with the issue of the funds stated to be provided by the Centre as also its utilization, especially keeping in mind the undisputed requirement of the fire tenders, which is sought to be postponed on the grounds of paucity of funds."
Jakhar, MLA from Abohar, while raising Abohar's case, submitted that within 100 km radius of the town, there was not even a single fire brigade vehicle for putting off a fire. The court was informed that the population of Abohar town was around 1.5 lakh, and as per the rules, for a population of 50,000, a fire tender is to be sanctioned. But unfortunately, not even a single fire tender is in working condition with the fire brigade office at Abohar.
The petitioner informed the court that Abohar is a major producer of cotton crop in the state and so the chances of fires were more.
Jakhar alleged that because of party politics, the state government was not ready to take action in case of Abohar despite the fact that their own municipal council officials were intimating them about the miserable condition of the fire brigade office.
He submitted that the state government was regularly receiving funds from the Centre under the state disaster response fund and the fund was used only in the event of either breaking out of a fire or for other emergencies.
The court was informed that during the financial year 2010-11, an amount of Rs 334 crore was received under the state disaster response fund from the Centre, but only Rs 215 crore was released further by the state, and that too for taking relief action in the damages caused by fires. The state government was shying away from spending on buying the fire-fighting equipment and fire tenders and from recruiting the desired staff to avoid such fires causing crores of loss to the state exchequer, the petitioner submitted.