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Updated: March 24, 2010 17:13 IST

West Bengal announces compensation to fire victims

PTI
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A file picture of West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish.
The Hindu A file picture of West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish.

The opposition in West Bengal assembly on Wednesday staged a walk out demanding resignation of the fire services minister accusing him of mishandling the Park Street blaze that claimed 24 lives, even as the government announced Rs. two lakh as compensation to the next of kin of the victims.

Critical over the handling of the fire, opposition members demanded Fire Services Minister Pratim Chatterjee’s resignation or dismissal.

“The minister doesn’t have moral responsibility to continue. He should resign owning all responsibility or should be sacked from the ministry,” Leader of the Opposition Partha Chatterjee of Trinamool Congress and CLP leader Manas Bhuniya demanded.

Mr. Bhuniya said the minister’s performance during earlier incidents of fire was miserable and probe reports of many cases were yet to be tabled.

All Trinamool Congress members walked out when Speaker H. A. Halim refused to accept their demand to defer the day’s business to discuss the unprecedented fire.

Announcing the compensation of Rs. two lakh to the next of kin of each victim’s family in the assembly, the fire services minister said the toll has mounted to 24 while another 24 remained missing and 13 injured were admitted to different hospitals.

Stating that most of the bodies could not be identified, he said help of forensic experts has been sought to ascertain the cause of the fire.

Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee visited the Stephen Court building on Park Street on Wednesday morning where a major fire claimed 24 lives.

After briefly reviewing the situation with city Police Commissioner Goutam Mohan Chakraborty and Director General of Fire Services, Gopal Bhattacharya, the Chief Minister entered the building and stayed there for about five minutes.

Mr. Chakraborty later told reporters that the Chief Minister had instructed the police and the fire brigade to quickly rescue anyone still trapped inside and asked the Kolkata Municipal Corporation to pull down the damaged portion of the 150-year-old heritage building housing restaurants, offices and residences.

The Police Commissioner said there was hardly any chance of anyone remaining alive in the affected portion of the building and the fire brigade was still looking for bodies.

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