HYDERABAD: In the run-up to the recent Assembly elections, the State had witnessed an unprecedented increase in VVIP visits from across the country. Apart from the Prime Minister and several Union ministers, the President, Vice-president, and the Governor had also toured the State. This meant that the various wings of police, health and fire departments had to be on their toes and accompany the VVIP vehicles as per protocol.
Between January and December of last year, the security wings and other services departments had to be on standby on as many as 2,135 occasions in case of emergencies as per protocol. In Hyderabad alone, there have been 1,196 occasions during which standby vehicles were used.
Though there were hardly any untoward incidents that took place during the elections, the visits of VVIPs took a toll on the financial status of the fire services department. The department, owing to frequent protocol duties, had to undergo a severe cash crunch. Already short-staffed, the department had to spend a lot on fuel due to increase in number of visits of VVIPs — President, Prime Minister, Vice President, Governor, chief ministers of various states and Union ministers during the Assembly polls.
Though the issue of arranging fire tenders for standby purposes was not witnessed in city, in the erstwhile districts, officials were in for a rough ride. In several districts, the fire stations are located considerably far from the major landmarks, unlike in Hyderabad, where the stations are within five to six km radius.
“We could easily procure fuel on credit from the civil supplies petrol bunk, but we did not anticipate the need,” a senior official from the fire services department told Express.
“In the districts, fire stations are located in far-off places. That made it difficult for us to reach venues where the VVIPs were visiting. Often, we had to redirect fire tenders from other districts,” he added.