After five anxious days, the traders of Satyanarayan Park AC Market received the official nod to enter the fire-ravaged construction. On Sunday, shopowners will be allowed to salvage their goods from the upper basement in the presence of policemen and fire brigade officials.
Though the shop-keepers have been demanding access to their stalls ever since flames engulfed the market last Tuesday, the administration sealed the market to ensure a smooth inquiry into the blaze.
“We did not allow the traders inside the market as forensic experts were yet to conduct a preliminary investigation. On Saturday, experts inspected the market and collected samples of debris. Now, we are ready to allow the traders into the upper basement,” said director of fire services Baren Sen on Saturday. According to Sen, the extent of damage can be assessed only after all the 350 traders salvage their goods.
Firemen continued to pump out water from the market on Saturday. Four inches of water still remained to be pumped out to access the severely-damaged lower basement, said fire service officials. Firemen said they would be able to drain out the water by Sunday.
Though shopowners are unsure about the condition of their goods, fire brigade and police officials said goods stocked in the upper basement, except inflammable items, were likely to have suffered minor damages. “According to our assessment, four to five stalls in the lower basement were completely gutted, while three stalls were half-burnt. The fire did not reach the other stalls,’’ said a fire brigade official.
The state government has formed a three-member committee, headed by a structural engineer from Jadavpur University, to examine the condition of the building. The committee will also place its suggestions on reconstructing the market.
The Chamber of Textile Trade and Industry has demanded compensation for all traders whose stalls have been gutted. “Under no circumstances are the traders responsible for the fire. The incident occurred due to the callousness of the owner who did not maintain fire safety measures,” said chamber president M.L. Khaitan. The traders, too, demanded that the market be renovated as soon as possible so that they could resume business.