Kolkata, Feb 27: Nineteen people were killed while 50 were injured after a major fire broke out in Surja Sen market near Sealdah here early on Wednesday. Twenty-five fire tenders were pressed into action to evacuate people trapped inside the market complex but it was a difficult challenge for the firefighters. It was feared that more than 30 people could still remain trapped inside and the death toll could rise further.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra were due to visit the spot soon. But what has really raised an alarm is the open accusation made by the local Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA that the municipality remained ignorant of the repeated plea to set up a better fire-fighting mechanism in this market. Incidentally, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation is also under the TMC's rule at the moment.
The municipality received another blow when the state fire services minister Javed Khan said the Surja Sen market was illegal. Although the minister said that the illegal market continued since the days of the Left, but didn't the city municipal corporation know it or it is busy installing trident lamps which are completely useless? What's the Paribartan then?
Wednesday's incident brings back the horrible memory of the Stephen Court and AMRI Hospitals fire which led to the death of several innocent lives. The hospital fire saw patients in intensive care unit being suffocated to death. Blame game and condemnation followed but nothing eventually happened.
Last March, the historic Hatibagan market in north Kolkata was badly damaged in a fire. But despite the repeated occurrence, none of the authorities, whether fire, municipality or the state government have taken any corrective measures.
This is how the successive pro-poor regimes in the state functions.