Referring to the devastating fire in the multi-storeyed Stephen Court here on March 23 and the loss of several lives, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee asked railway staff on Monday to learn from such incidents and be “more alert” and “rectify loopholes” to avert train accidents.

Flagging off the Sealdah-Baruipur Matribhumi local at the Sealdah station, Ms. Banerjee said: “We do not want a single such incident or a single loss of life in the Railways but still accidents take place. We need to take more care and do good work. Loopholes, if any, should be rectified and we should be more alert.”

‘No matter of joke'

Indirectly critical of the role of the West Bengal government and the civic authorities in tackling the Stephen Court fire, she said that “such high a death toll is no matter of joke.”

The death toll due to the fire had risen to 43 on Monday with the discovery of the remains of seven more bodies.

“We are ashamed that we have to witness such an incident and could not do anything to stop it. There is nowhere we can hide our grief and shame,” Ms. Banerjee said.

On Sunday, she had demanded a judicial inquiry under a sitting judge or an impartial probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Reiterating the need for public-private participation in setting up coach factories as well as in beautifying railway stations, she said private players were welcome to sponsor upgradation programmes of stations and the fencing off the 65,000-km-long tracks.

Admitting the shortage of rakes and coaches, she said the Railways was “trying its best” to address the problem by setting up more coach factories as per the budget proposals.

She expressed satisfaction over the fulfilment of commitments made in last year's budget.


Owner of Stephen Court arrested in U.P.August 24, 2010