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Friday, Aug 16, 2019

Gallantry award benefits still elude kin of firefighters killed in Ludhiana plastic factory fire

The families of nine killed firefighters have been continuously making rounds of government offices for getting the benefits, but to no avail

punjab Updated: Aug 15, 2019 12:17 IST
Harsimran Singh Batra
Harsimran Singh Batra
Ludhiana
Ludhiana, May 05, 2017::: Workers evacuating the factory after a major fire broke out at Ashok Plastics at Cheema Chowk in Ludhiana on Friday, May 05, 2017. Photo by Gurminder Singh/Hindustan Times.
Ludhiana, May 05, 2017::: Workers evacuating the factory after a major fire broke out at Ashok Plastics at Cheema Chowk in Ludhiana on Friday, May 05, 2017. Photo by Gurminder Singh/Hindustan Times.
         

Gallantry awards were announced for 13 firefighters from the city on January 26, but aggrieved firefighters and their families are still struggling to get benefits of the awards. The firefighters were chosen for President’s Fire Service Medal for Gallantry.   

Out of the 13 firefighters, nine died after a plastic factory near the Suffiyan Chowk collapsed during a firefighting operation in November 2017 and the other four were injured while dousing the flames in Vijay Nagar in May 2017. 

The families of nine killed firefighters have been continuously making rounds of government offices for getting the benefits, but to no avail. They also met MC commissioner Kanwalpreet Kaur Brar on Wednesday. 

The benefits included a special allowance of over ₹5,000 per month, discount on air travel, concession in school admission fee for children/widow quota in jobs, etc. 

Deceased firefighter Manpreet Singh's father, Malkit Singh, 67, said his only son had died in the tragedy due to lack of safety arrangements. Now, authorities were forcing them to make rounds of government offices for giving benefits. “The authorities are not even pursuing the cases and it shows disrespect to those, who had died while on duty,” he said. 

Deceased sub fire officer Rajinder Sharma's son, Tushar Sharma, said they had met fire brigade officials many a time, but to no avail.

The families, who met the commissioner on Wednesday, included those of deceased Rajinder Sharma, Raj Kumar, Manpreet Singh and a few others. 

 Assistant divisional fire officer (ADFO) Bhupinder Singh said he had told family members of the firefighters that the Union government had not yet given any directions to the state or the fire brigade to give benefits to the families. The benefits would be provided only after they received directions from the Centre, said Singh. 

RECIPIENTS OF AWARDS

The nine firefighters, who died in the plastic factory tragedy, included sub fire officers Rajinder Sharma, Sumohan Gill and Raj Kumar, leading fireman Pooran Singh, firemen Rajan, Vishal, Manpreet Singh, Sukhdev Singh, and leading fireman Manohar Lal. In total, 16 lives were lost in the factory collapse. 

The four injured firefighters included sub fire officer Hazura Singh and three firemen, Lovlesh Sood, Naresh Kumar and Saudagar Singh. 

KIN OF CONTRACTUAL FIREFIGHTERS STILL AWAITING JOBS

The families of two contractual firefighters, Manpreet Singh and Sukhdev Singh, are still struggling to get j the jobs promised by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh after the factory collapsed in November 2017. Manpreet's father, Malkit Singh, said the local bodies department had sent a letter to the MC in December 2017 that a special resolution had to be approved by the general House of the MC to give jobs to the kin of contractual firefighters. However, nothing had been done in this regard and families were still awaiting jobs, he rued. The family members of regular employees got jobs after a year of the incident. 

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 22:22 IST

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