While responding to a question from fellow Congress MLA Navtej Singh Cheema in the Punjab assembly, cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is a Cabinet Minister in the state, has said that the state has 150 fire fighting vehicles while the state requires 550 such vehicles. Sidhu has assured the state assembly that the state has 150 fire fighting vehicles out of which 100 vehicles are outdated and hence the state only has 50 vehicles. Sidhu said,”The state practically only has 50 fire engines”. Sidhu, however, told the assembly that the government would set up a Fire Directorate to improve the condition and equipment profile of the fire department, according to a PTI report.
Sidhu, who is Punjab’s Local Government Minister, had also accused the previous SAD-BJP Government of completely neglecting the fire department. According to PTI, the Centre had given the state government Rs 90 crore to buy fire fighting vehicles, but the then SAD-BJP Punjab government only purchased small vehicles worth Rs 17 crore.
Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is known for his sense of humour, quipped, ”Pizza can de delivered in 15 minutes, but a fire brigade vehicle does not reach a place which is on fire, it does not even reach for five hours”. The Local Government Minister added that the state government has earmarked Rs 45 crore for the fire directorate.
Earlier this month on June 11, 28 persons were injured when a fire broke out in a cracker godown in Sunam. In that incident, the fire brigade had to be called from Sangrur district, which is close to 25 kilometers away from the godown, according to an Indian Express report