The fire department on Monday turned down a demand from a section of shopkeepers to allow shops that survived the February 27 blaze at Surya Sen market to reopen.
The demand coincided with Trinamul MP Somen Mitra’s two-page letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee seeking financial support “from the CM’s relief fund” for a section of small traders living a “hand-to-mouth existence” following the tragedy and subsequent lockdown of the market.
Admitting that “identifying such people is difficult”, Mitra has asked the chief minister to identify distressed traders with the help of local elected representatives, including his wife and MLA Shikha Mitra — suspended from the party for her criticism of the state government and Mamata.
Shikha was suspended last December after months of targeting Mamata and her government. Though Mitra has shared the dais with the chief minister, Shikha has stayed away from all party and government meets.
Mitra, who signed the letter as “Somenda”, has asked the chief minister to consider his request “keeping aside all other considerations.”
“Somenda is a veteran politician and knows Mamatadi very well. After all that has transpired since last July, when Shikha Mitra spoke out against the government for the first time, it is obvious that Mamatadi is not going to keep this request,” a Trinamul leader said.
In the afternoon, members of Surya Sen Market Co-operative Development Society, formed after the market blaze on February 27, met mayor Sovan Chatterjee and fire minister Javed Khan at the Calcutta Municipal Corporation headquarters. The traders requested the mayor to allow shops in the “unaffected zones” to reopen.
Sources said Chatterjee asked the traders to get the clearance from the fire brigade before knocking on the CMC’s doors.
Khan refused to listen to the traders.
A committee headed by the DG (fire services), D.P. Tarenia, with members from Calcutta police, CESC and CMC’s director general (building) has been formed to assess the measures needed to protect the market from fire hazards.
“The committee will have to submit its report within three months and the traders must follow the recommendations. Only then we will allow reopening of the market,” Khan said.