Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu today alleged that the previous SAD-BJP government “blatantly ignored” disaster management systems in the state. He said the recent incidents of fire reported in Ludhiana made him review the works done till now which revealed that the funds received for the purpose have been grossly misused. Sidhu alleged that the previous dispensation, during the last 10 years, did not adequately use the grants received from the Centre which earned a bad name for the state.
Only Rs 60 lakh was spent out of Rs 4.60 crore received for fire extinguishing mechanism between 2009 and 2013, the local bodies minister said here. “Out of Rs 629 crore received for disaster management, Rs 91 crore was earmarked for fire extinguishing management.
“But only Rs 17 crore were spent for the purpose the user certificate of which was not sent to the Union government resulting in stoppage of central grants for the purpose,” Sidhu was quoted as saying in an official release.
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Due to this non-utilisation and improper use of funds, Punjab has been placed in the ‘red zone’ by the Centre, he claimed.
The minister informed that the Congress government has decided to set up a fire extinguishing directorate in the state and fire extinguishing service week will be observed between April 17 and 21 every year.
Sidhu said the state government is providing treatment free of charge to firemen injured while dousing flames during the recent fire mishaps in Ludhiana and they would also be honoured and given promotions.