The families of three firemen who sacrificed their lives in fire-fighting operations in the city were honoured on the National Fire Service Day on Tuesday, but they continue to wait for the jobs on compassionate grounds and the compensation promised to them long ago. Families of two of them are passing through a difficult time and finding it hard to make ends meet.
While two firemen lost their lives in the collapse of the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT) building after a fire in Sector 17 last year — both were named in a countrywide list of three “martyrs” released by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday — another fireman had died while battling flames in a Sector 22 house in 2008.
In July last year, the general house of the municipal corporation had resolved to provide a job to the family of Ravinder Kumar Sharma, leading hand fireman in the Indian Air Force, and compensation to the family of Amandeep Singh, a corporation fireman, both of whom had died in the NIELIT fire. The house had also given its nod to an insurance scheme for fire-fighters.
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However, nothing has been done. Sharma’s family has been living in dire financial straits since his death, as he was the sole read-winner and is survived by his mother, wife and three children. His eldest son Dheeraj Sharma, 22, was promised a job for which he is still waiting. “We were filled with hope after the announcement, but nothing has materialised,” he said.
His uncle Amrik Singh said, “After the fire incident and the deaths, there was a public outcry which led to the MC announcing a slew of measures. The matter should be pursued with the administration so that the family of a martyr can at least make ends meet. Currently, they are surviving on Ravinder’s pension.”
The family of Amarjit Singh Mavi, who died in 2008, faces a similar situation. They were promised a compensation of Rs 5 lakh which has still not been paid. They have also been fighting to get a job for his eldest son.
“For how long can we survive on the pension? My father was the sole bread-winner and it is very unfortunate that we have to fight to get a job on compassionate grounds. Recently, we met MC officials who said they had referred the matter to the administration and were doing everything they can,” said Amarjit’s son Simranjit, 24.
The family of Amandeep, too, is yet to get the compensation. Group insurance for the fire-fighters has also not been introduced, although a proposal for this was first passed by the house in 2010 and then again last year.
Mayor Poonam Sharma, while addressing the gathering at the function organised in Sector 17 on Tuesday, said, “We are regularly communicating with the administration regarding the benefits which must be given to all firemen who risk their lives on a daily basis for the safety of the public.”