oppn parties Another Disaster in Kolkata: Fire At Bagree Market

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Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara write to the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute
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Another Disaster in Kolkata: Fire At Bagree Market

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Even as the trauma of the shocking collapse of the Majerhat Bridge had not gone away, Kolkatans woke up to another horrifying incident – a massive fire that all but destroyed the Bagree Market, the biggest wholesale market in the city. Suspected to have started from an electrical fault from a lamp post outside the building, the fire raged for almost 24 hrs with the fire tenders prevented from efficient handling of operations by the narrow road and overhead cables.

This is the seventh major fire in recent times in a business hub in Kolkata’s Burrabazar area which itself is a major business hub having more than a dozen wholesale markets dealing in commodities as diverse as cloth, waterproofing materials, chemicals, paints, fresh flowers, cosmetics, medicines, plastic goods, pulses and food grains etc.

In an area of less than 2 square kilometers are located dingy and dilapidated buildings which house these markets. There is no fire fighting system, no proper drainage, no clean toilets or other facilities and electrical and other cables are dangerously hung everywhere. The whole area is prone to accidents and disaster. Yet, more than a lakh of people visit Burrabazar for business every day, from the suburbs of the city as well as from the districts of West Bengal and neighbouring states.

It is a mystery how the traders manage to get no-objection certificates from the fire department and then the trade license from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation to run their businesses. This is a huge corruption-laden scam that needs to be exposed and ended. The government must ensure that these markets do something about the electrical wires, widen their passages, have clean toilets and drinking water facilities and install firefighting equipment before allowing them to continue business.

It is not proper to blame the owners of these buildings alone as most of the traders pay a piffling sum as rent. They also have a traders’ association in place. Since these traders make huge profits, the government must initiate a tripartite meeting between the owners, the associations and a government representative to ensure that things are sorted out.