| An earlier fire in a Burrabazar building that had been set off by faulty wiring. A Telegraph picture
Along with buildings in danger of collapsing, the fire services department has fixed its gaze on structures in Burrabazar that can catch fire any moment because of faulty wiring.
According to fire service officials, most of the 50-odd fires that broke out in the trade hub in the past year were caused by short circuits, a consequence of faulty connections.
'At least 500 buildings in Burrabazar can be described as fire hazards. A disaster can strike any day. Once a list of such buildings is ready, the owners or occupants will be served notices and asked to replace the old electrical wiring,' said a fire department official.
The authorities are also preparing a list of old, dilapidated buildings, whose owners or occupants will be asked to undertake thorough repairs or raze the structures and build new ones.
'We are tired of urging owners, tenants and traders in Burrabazar to repair or replace all old wiring. It's time we took a tough stand,' said fire services minister Pratim Chatterjee. 'Action will be taken if the owners or occupants fail to take government-prescribed safety measures. Traders will not be allowed to operate if they ignore the directive.'
A peek into any building in Burrabazar, he added, will reveal hundreds of temporary electrical connections. 'It is impossible to make out from the meter boxes which wire has gone where. Most tenants have drawn up temporary connections, ignoring all rules. These illegal and haphazard connections often lead to short circuits and fire.'
According to the plan, wiring installed more than 15-20 years ago will have to be recast by registered electricians. The temporary connections, too, will have to be fixed according to the guidelines.
After the wiring is reset, the owners or occupants will have to obtain a certificate from CESC and submit it to the fire department for a fresh fire licence.
The fire services minister said he had discussed the matter with power minister Mrinal Banerjee and the CESC authorities.
The government's move follows a report of an expert committee, which has recommended that electrical wiring in all old buildings be recast.