Major fire destroys 50 shops in Srinagar's oldest market

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Srinagar, Nov 29 (UNI) A devastating fire swept through a historic market in the old city here last night, razing to ground at least 50 shops and destroying property worth crores of rupees, a senior fire services official said today.

Divisional Fire Officer, Headquarters, Sajjad Ahmed Khan told UNI that the fire erupted from one of the shops in the city's oldest market Maharaja Ranbir Gunj, also known as Sri Ranbir Gunj or S R Gunj, at around 2230 hrs last night and soon engulfed others.

He said the firefighters took three hours to extinguish the raging flames. ''About 16 fire tenders and eight pumps were pressed into service to douse the blaze,'' Mr Khan added.

He said at least 50 shops and godowns were gutted in the fire, the cause of which was believed to be short circuit.

Mr Khan said some fire tenders were deployed in the area till this morning to ensure that the flames do not erupt again.

The Jammu and Kashmir government had recently decided to conserve and develop the historic S R Gunj market in the old city here as a heritage site on the pattern of Mubarak Mandi palace complex in the winter capital of the state.

The Mubarak Mandi complex in Jammu was also gutted in a devastating fire in December last year.

The government further said the conservation plan would be worked out and implemented under the aegis of the City Development Coordination Committee (CDCC), headed by Finance and Planning Minister Tariq Hameed Karra.

Several government and non-government agencies and experts would be co-opted to draw the conservation plan for the market to be implemented in a time-bound manner, it added.

The restoration work would be started after clearing the area of encroachments and bottlenecks, the government said, adding in this connection 15 structures have been identified near Zarab-Khana, Rajouri Kadal for immediate relocation.

UNI

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