West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday served an ultimatum on all city markets to implement fire-safety measures within a fortnight. “If you are able to ensure fire fighting arrangements in the next 15 days then well and good; those unable to do so will have to face the consequences,” Ms. Banerjee said at an event organised by the city police to hand over compensation to the families of victims of the Surya Sen Market fire.
Permission (to run and resume business) would not be given to those who do not put in place safeguards, she said.
“The State government does not want to close markets since it will affect the livelihood of traders,” Ms. Banerjee said, but pointed out that she would not allow anyone to play with lives. “Enough is enough,” she said.Emphasising that all markets in the city need modernisation, she asked the shopkeepers to share the cost. She wanted a committee to be set up for monitoring the fire-safety status of the markets.
Twentyone people died when a fire broke out at Surya Sen Market near Sealdah Station last month.
The Chief Minister urged people not to use the shops for cooking or storing inflammables.
Referring to certain areas inaccessible to fire tenders, Ms. Banerjee said much of the city was unplanned.
She announced the setting up of an expert group to look into ways to give fire engines easy entry during fires in densely populated areas. Reiterating that even the State Secretariat is a tinderbox, she said wires were dangling precariously.