The popular Kadamtalla Market in Howrah went up in flames early on Saturday. At least 100 shops were gutted, destroying the livelihoods of many, but no one was injured in the incident. Locals alleged that the market had no fire safety equipment.
According to witnesses, the fire broke out at around 4.30 am. Initially, four fire engines were pressed into service, but later, an additional 14 fire engines were deployed. It took the firemen over three hours to control the blaze as the market was stocked with highly flammable material like garments and household items. The market falls under ward number 23 of the Howrah Municipal Corporation. While angry shopkeepers blamed the civic administration for lack of fire safety equipment, the latter said the market was private property and the onus of providing the equipment fell on its owner.
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Ward Counsellor Mousumi Ghosh said, “It is a private market under the ownership of some one named Tapas Pal Choudhury. We are looking into all aspects to find out where the loopholes were,” she said. Mayor Dr Rathin Chakroborty said that each shopkeeper will be given Rs 10,000 each and the HMC will be arranging tarpaulin and bamboo poles for the affected traders to resume their business in the festive season as a temporary arrangement.