Bagree Market fire: Cooling ops underway as Kolkata blaze comes under control after two days; FIR against building owners
The massive fire at Kolkata's Bagree Market gutted at least 1,000 business establishments, causing huge losses to traders ahead of Durga Puja.
Kolkata: The massive fire at Bagree Market in the Burrabazar area of the business hub of Kolkata has been brought under control after two days, a senior officer of the fire department said on Tuesday. Mayor of Kolkata and Fire Services Minister Sovan Chatterjee said an FIR has been filed against the directors and CEO of the multi-storey building.
"An FIR was registered today (Tuesday) against the owners of the building at the Burrabazar Police Station. They have been booked under relevant sections of the West Bengal Fire Services Act and the Indian Penal Code," Chatterjee said.
West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services Director General Jag Mohan said the process of "cooling down" was underway at the market, and 15 fire tenders have been pressed into service for it. "The blaze has been brought under control. But there are still some pockets of fire in parts of the building, and our officers are trying to douse them. We will continue our fight as the cooling process is still on," Jag Mohan said.
Another fire department officer said cracks have appeared on the walls of the building, and precautionary measures were being taken to prevent another untoward incident. "Shopkeepers and a few residents of adjacent buildings have been evacuated after a few cracks were seen on the walls of the Bagree Market building. We are not taking any chances," the officer said.
He also acknowledged the problem of water scarcity in the area. "The firefighters are sourcing water from nearby reservoirs for the operation," he added.
The massive fire at Bagree Market gutted at least 1,000 business establishments inside the G+5 building, causing huge losses to traders ahead of Durga Puja. The state government has directed the police and the fire department to ascertain the cause of the fire and initiate strict legal action against those found guilty in this connection.
The police have also been directed to summon owners of the building.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said business establishments should build firefighting infrastructure on their own or let the government do it. "I told the mayor that they should do it or let the government do it. Proper planning is always necessary," Mamata, currently in Germany for a business summit, told a Bengali TV channel.
The chief minister also said that inflammable articles stored in the market had made the firefighting operations even more difficult. "Let them (traders) do their business. But they should submit plans for fire safety to the government. We will approve it," she asserted.
Meanwhile, senior Left Front leader Biman Bose on Tuesday joined the chorus of Opposition parties to criticise the Trinamool Congress-led government over the Bagree Market fire.
"Every state government has a committee comprising police and fire department officials to inspect the infrastructure of markets and issue fire safety clearances. In this case, the fire broke out within a few days of receiving clearance," Bose said, adding that there has to be accountability in such cases, and those found guilty should be punished.
When asked about similar incidents during the 34-year-old Left regime, Bose said action was taken against the guilty in each and every case. "During the Left regime, we made sure that an inquiry committee was formed in all such cases and action initiated against those found guilty," he added.
The BJP and Congress had on Sunday blamed the ruling Trinamool Congress for its failure to avert the incident. BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said there should be an independent inquiry to ascertain if there was any conspiracy or sabotage behind the massive blaze.
West Bengal Pradesh Congress President Adhir Chowdhury, too, blamed the Trinamool government over the incident. Mamata wants to turn Kolkata into London, but everything has turned topsy turvy under her government, he had said.
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