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Land hunt for new fire stations

A proposal to set up around a dozen fire stations across the state to respond to emergencies with more alacrity, which was all but forgotten in the past two years, has been dragged out from under the carpet.

Around a month ago, the fire department wrote to the deputy commissioners of the districts where the fire stations have been mooted, asking them to offer land or readymade buildings for setting up base for the emergency service. The selected places are Khunti, Rajmahal in Sahebganj, Bermo and Chas in Bokaro, Hunterganj and Nagarutari in Latehar-Palamau, Barhi in Hazaribagh, Ghatshila in East Singhbhum, Madhupur in Deoghar, Bundu in Ranchi and Chandil in West Singhbhum.

However, the process of acquiring adequate land seems to be a long haul as most districts are yet to respond. Of the two districts that did reply with land offers — Ranchi and East Singhbhum — the department found one proposal unsatisfactory. “We turned down Ghashila’s proposal, as the space that they provided is not adequate to house even two rooms,” state fire officer Mahanand Singh told The Telegraph on Monday.

As for Bundu, he added that they had sent officials to inspect the site on the capital’s outskirts. A report is awaited.

Arranging sufficient money is another major hurdle as the fire department doesn’t have its own corpus fund and has to rely on the disaster management wing.

According to sources, a Rs 60-crore proposal was sent to the disaster management wing in the last fiscal, but it returned it, saying the fire department was entitled to a meagre Rs 13 crore in a financial year. This means that the fire department now has to pursue the project in phases.

“More than funds, we are worried about land and manpower crunch at present. Many aspects have to be taken into account for setting up a fire station like building, water tanks, parking space, storerooms for equipment etc. This apart, each station should have minimum number of staff. But it is the government’s responsibility to sort these issues. From our end, we have already pushing for things that come in our jurisdiction,” Singh said.

Jharkhand now has 31 fire stations. Former chief minister Arjun Munda passed a proposal to set up about a dozen more in 2011 after the fire tragedy at AMRI Hospitals in Calcutta.