KOLKATA 9 MARCH: Just a day after a devastating fire that claimed nine lives on the 13th floor of a 14-storied New Koilaghat building of the Eastern Railway on Strand Road here, a political storm seems to have erupted ahead of the West Bengal Assembly elections 2021. Especially, with the BJP government pointing fingers at the TMC government for poor disaster management and the ruling party refuting all allegations and blaming the railways for not providing a 12th-floor map.
Notably, the police confirmed that nine persons, including four firefighters, three railway personnel, and an assistant sub-inspector of Kolkata Police was killed in the fire.
Blame Trip Begins
Mainly, the fight between the Union and the state government started with the BJP Bengal co-in-charge Amit Malviya tweeting how ‘Pishi (Mamata) has failed Bengal.
He tweeted, and said that the state needs a proactive disaster management policy .
Here is Malviya’s tweet on this regard
Meanwhile, the state Fire and Emergency Services Minister Sujit Bose countered the allegations. He mentioned how they had been completely prepared to control the fire. Especially, from installing a hydraulic ladder to containing the fire. Bose claimed that it was the Railways that did not provide them with a map of the interiors of the 12th floor.
What did the Police say?
Moreover, the police said that the preliminary investigation revealed that the firefighters were asked by the railway officials to use the elevator. Mostly, because there was no provision for them to use the staircase. So, the officials rushed to the 13th floor. But, the police claimed that the fire fighting officials should have been intimidated to first reach the 10th floor and then use the staircase. Unfortunately, there was no such information provided by the railway officials.
What Mamata Banerjee said?
In addition, Mamata Banerjee rushed to the site on Monday night. On reaching the spot, she announced a ₹10,00,000 compensation and a government job for the families of the deceased. She alleged that the senior railway officials were not even present at the mishap spot. “It is a very old Railway building. Rail officials should have taken some responsibility. No railway official is present at the spot. Also, the State’s Fire minister told me that the fire brigade did not receive any cooperation from the Railways. They needed a map of the building for rescue operation but was not provided with the same,” she told the media. Though, she maintained that she does not want to engage in politics over an accident.
What did the TMC government say?
Mainly, the state government officials claimed that the railways failed to maintain the building. Also, failed to make any ire audit within the last few years that mainly is responsible for such a disaster. Even, the Kolkata Police has registered an FIR against the Railways for violating rules and the lack of adequate safety measures.
What did the Railway officials say?
However, the railway authorities claimed that the firefighters arrived late at the spot. Also, due to a lack of modern firefighting equipment, the fire has claimed nine lives. Also. According to senior railways officers, the on-duty officers were present at the spot there and assisting the concerned authorities. Even, an investigation committee has been constituted. The railways’ officials claimed that the state fire department did not provide the necessary help that resulted in the loss of nine lives.
What did the State Fire Department say?
Further, the senior fire officials claimed that there were violations of fire safety norms. Including, having wooden cubicles and multiple false ceilings in the building.
BJP Leader visits Mishap Site, Railways Minister Orders Probe
On Tuesday morning, Rahul Sinha, BJP leader visited the spot and expressed his regret over the accident. Sinha said, “It’s an unfortunate incident. We are at a loss of words.”
Furthermore, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has now set up a high-level committee. Especially, to ascertain the reason behind the fire at the sprawling building situated on Strand Road.
Horrors of 13th Floor Railway Office at Strand Road Fire
On Monday, seven people were killed in the fire that broke out on the 13th floor of the Railways building. While two more bodies were recovered from the building on Tuesday morning. Probably, this is one it’s kind fire incident in Kolkata in which the rescuers -firemen, police, and RPF personnel got killed. Five out of the nine bodies were found in an elevator on the 12th floor. The victims appeared to have suffocated and burnt to death inside the lift.
Reportedly, the fire broke out at 6:10 pm on Monday evening. Soon after, at least 25 fire engines were deployed to put out the blaze.
It may be noted that the building houses offices of the two zonal railways and a computerised ticket booking center on its ground floor.