Even as Indore expands at a fast pace, available infrastructure seems hard-pressed to catch up. Take the case of fire-fighting equipment.
A hydraulic platform capable of reaching a height of 30 metres has been gathering dust at Gandhi Hall fire station for over five years even as authorities have granted permission for buildings that are substantially higher in the interim.
"There is a great mismatch between the reach of fire-fighting equipment and height of the city’s tallest structures," said Pradip Hinduja, who moved the high court to protest the anomaly in 2009.
Shortly afterwards, the then inspector general (fire) KC Verma had told Hindustan Times that a proposal was afoot to procure a 70 m Bronto ladder/skylift for Indore. (Bronto is a Finnish firm that specialises in manufacture of fire-fighting equipment).
The equipment would be purchased through central funding worth Rs 21 crore for disaster management, Verma had added.
The procurement proposal seems to have been shelved. "At the moment there is no proposal to repair the hydraulic platform or to buy a new one," said superintendent of police (Fire) Hemlata Kuril.
So what happens if, God forbid, a fire breaks out at one of the high-rise structures? "We have a 30 m high ladder and coupled with fire hoses we can douse any blaze. There has never been any incident where firefighters have not been able to reach the fire," said Kuril and adds a second later, "at least so far."
Hinduja, however, contests the claims. "The fire department admitted in court that the firefighting equipment could only reach a height of 12 metres," claimed the petitioner.
In his petition, Hinduja charged that the high-rise committee violated Rule No 83 of the Niyam which states that permissions can be granted only for buildings whose height is within the reach of existing fire-fighting equipment.
Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC), in association with the Police Agnishaman Sewa (Fire Services) and experts from various fields, prepared a Rs 139.75-crore action plan to prevent and combat fires.
The five-year plan called for setting up a total of 49 fire stations by 2015 comprising, among other things, five hydraulic platforms with a cumulative cost of Rs 25 crore, six hazmat vans (Rs 30 crore) and five advance rescue tenders (Rs 5 crore). It was notified in the state gazette on February 11, 2014.
IMC tankers have been deployed at temporary firecracker shops at Ganji compound, Chimanbagh and other areas. The sellers have kept water-filled drums nearby as extra precaution.