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Mamata admits to lapses in fire safety effort

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, with Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee and city Police Commissioner Surajit Karpurokayastha outside the
Police morgue in Kolkata on Wednesday.
PTI West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, with Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee and city Police Commissioner Surajit Karpurokayastha outside the Police morgue in Kolkata on Wednesday.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday admitted that not many steps have been taken to ensure fire safety after the blaze at AMRI Hospitals that killed nearly 90 people in December 2011.

She was speaking soon after a major fire broke out in a multi-storey market complex in central Kolkata on Wednesday morning, killing 20 people.

According to Banerjee, many places (including unauthorised buildings) in the city have become a “tinderbox” and no action has been taken to ensure fire safety.

“We had instructed hospitals and multi-storeyed buildings to ensure fire safety. But, the fire safety arrangements have not been put in place,” she said after visiting the market complex on Surya Sen Street here.

She added that there has not been adequate planning to avoid fire mishaps for several years now. “This is a result of no-planning for several years,” Banerjee said.

According to her, there are “safety hazards” in various areas in the city such as Garden Reach, Topsia but she never thought that such a major incident would take place near Surya Sen Street in the heart of Kolkata.

She urged the public to cooperate with the Government to make sure such incidents do not recur in future and said the State Government would initiate a survey to identify such “hazardous places”.

“Three months’ time will be given to those who have not acted on the basis of the earlier survey,” Banerjee said.

ayan.pramanik@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 27, 2013)
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