Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the gutted slum in North Kolkata’s Bagbazar area and promised to rebuild shanties.
As many as 107 shanties were burnt to the ground in a fire on Wednesday evening, leaving around 1,500 people without roof. It took around four hours and at least 25 fire tenders to put out the flames. It continued till Thursday morning.
Banerjee met a few victims and said the affected people would be provided food and shelter until shanties were rebuilt.
“Since yesterday (Wednesday), I was in constant touch with everyone. Fire fighters, disaster management teams, police and volunteers worked together to bring the fire down. It is a very unfortunate incident, but thankfully, things have come under control. Our first responsibility was to relocate the victims. We have arranged food and shelter, which were was our prime concern. There is nothing to worry. Trust us, we will arrange everything,” said Banerjee.
As per her instructions, all victims have been shifted to Bagbazar Women’s College on Kshirode Vidyavinode Avenue, which is adjacent to the fire site.
“We will feed all of you till your houses are built. Until then, please stay at Bagbazar Women’s College. The area will be cleaned first, and then, the KMC (Kolkata Municipal Corporation) will rebuild houses for you just like it was before. Don’t worry,” she said.
Banerjee, who spent half an hour in the area, directed State Minister Sashi Panja to arrange clothes. She also promised 5 kg of rice, lentils, vegetables, milk and biscuits for each of the affected families.
Panja was also seen serving food to the victims, and local club members distributed blankets and clothes to them.
The fire broke out at 6:35pm on Wednesday and 20 fire tenders were rushed to the spot. No fatalities have been reported while a few received minor injuries. Portions of Udbodhan Bhawan — a property owned by the Ramakrishna Mission — along with accounts books were reportedly damaged in the fire.
While the police have initiated a probe into the case, the cause of fire is still uncertain.
Meanwhile, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh demanded a proper probe into the incident.
“Distributing five kg of rice will be of no help to the people who all have lost everything in this incident. I am hopeful that government will take the responsibility to arrange a permanent shelter for them. A few have already raised questions on the incident so a probe should be initiated to find out if there was any conspiracy behind it,” said Ghosh.
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