Mamata sniffs sabotage, orders probe into Kolkata fireMarch 22nd, 2012 - 7:48 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, March 22 (IANS) Hinting that the devastating fire at Kolkata’s age-old Hatibagan market Thursday could have been deliberately caused, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered a joint probe by the police, the fire department and the Disaster Management Group.
“The local councillors have complained to me that for the last few days some suspicious people have been roaming around the market collecting information. Whether it is a case of deliberate fire or an accident is a matter to be probed which will be done by the police, the fire department and the Disaster Management Group,” Banerjee said.
Some owners whose shops were completely gutted have alleged sabotage.
“Promoters have been eyeing the market for long to set up shopping malls here. Who knows may be the fire was caused by them to get the area on which our shops were located,” said one of the shopkeepers. His views were echoed by others.
Banerjee said that hawking stalls have been increasing in the area and there were many illegal godowns which resulted in congestion, hindering the fire brigade services.
“The hawking stalls have been spreading. Every day we see new stalls coming up. The hawkers’ union leaders in lieu for money are allowing these shops to come up, which not only inconveniences the public at large but restricts and hinders the movement of fire engines in case of a fire,” she said.
The chief minister also assured rehabilitation of the poor shopkeepers.
“Although it is a nongovernmental market, there are many small traders who are poor and have lost everything in the fire. I have asked the (Municipal) Corporation to look into the matter and work towards their rehabilitation,” added Banerjee.
More than 80 percent of the iconic market was razed in an early morning fire which was noticed first at 2.30 in the morning. Thirty fire engines were pressed into service, and as per official reports the blaze has been brought under control. There are no reports of any injury or casualty.
A forensic team is slated to visit the place Friday.
This is the third major fire incident in Bengal in the last two days.
On Wednesday, at least four people were injured in a fire at two hospitals.
In December last year, a pre-dawn blaze at Kolkata’s AMRI hospital left 94 people dead. Most of them were patients who choked to death due to toxic smoke.
- Kolkata's iconic Hatibagan market gutted, Mamata suspects sabotage (Second Lead) - Mar 22, 2012
- Major fire in Kolkata, no casualties so far - Mar 22, 2012
- Mamata laments lack of fire fighting infrastructure - Dec 12, 2011
- Tata compliments Mamata, she says thanks - Dec 15, 2011
- Panels to check Kolkata fire safety, violators on notice - Dec 10, 2011
- Mamata asks police, fire, KMC to work together for public safety - Jan 02, 2012
- Hawkers should not be evicted: Mahasweta Devi - May 16, 2012
- WB Congress demands CBI probe in Hooch tragedy - Dec 17, 2011
- 'No emission hazard from AMRI radiotherapy instruments' (Lead) - Dec 12, 2011
- Kolkata grieves for AMRI victims (Roundup) - Dec 13, 2011
- Kolkata hospital blaze kills 90, India mourns - Dec 10, 2011
- National Insurance assessing loss in AMRI fire - Apr 20, 2012
- West Bengal hooch deaths rise to 167 (Lead) - Dec 16, 2011
- West Bengal hooch deaths rise to 171, official suspended (Roundup) - Dec 16, 2011
- Compensation paid to AMRI victims' kin - Jan 03, 2012
Tags: blaze, chief minister, congestion, disaster management, few days, fire brigade, fire department, fire engines, hawkers, local councillors, mamata banerjee, management group, money, morning fire, promoters, sabotage, shopping malls, small traders, union leaders, west bengal