Singed by the recent fires, including the blaze at Satyanarayan Park AC Market, the state government has decided to crack down on auditoriums and theatres across the city that do not have adequate fire-fighting equipment. Leading the list is Nazrul Mancha, owned by the Calcutta Improvement Trust (CIT), on Southern Avenue.
The fire services department has decided to halt all programmes at the auditorium and pulled up its authorities for not installing proper fire-fighting devices. “We have asked the CIT not to issue any fresh bookings for programmes from June, since the present fire-protection equipment at the auditorium is not effective,” said fire services minister Pratim Chatterjee. “Other halls are being inspected and face such a ban,” he added.
The fire services department has already sent suggestions to the CIT for upgrading the protection devices in the auditorium, which has a capacity of 3,500. “It is not always possible to have our fire engines stationed at Nazrul Mancha and other halls during shows. They must have their own devices ready,” Chatterjee said. He urged all other hall-owners to follow his department’s directives to the word.
According to officials, a major drive is in the offing to monitor the fire-protection devices of all theatres and auditoriums. “It has been decided that auditoriums that do not have their own foolproof set-ups will not be allowed to host shows. They will be sent suggestions on how to upgrade their fire-protection devices,” a fire official said.
Nazrul Mancha, an open-air theatre till 1993, comprises an office, a VIP room and two green rooms, apart from the hall and the stage. An organiser went to seek permission from the fire services department, but was sent back because of the auditorium’s inadequate fire-protection devices. The hall authorities, in a letter, requested fire services officials to inspect the hall. The inspection was held in the second week of May and a 10-point suggestion was sent to CIT.
The suggestions include repair of old chairs, digging a hydrant, setting up a fire pump and also a special tank for water supply, in case a fire breaks out.
With the fire department withholding permission for the show, the police followed suit.
However, the CIT authorities are not amused. “We have some fire-protection devices in place, like sand buckets, a hose wheel and chemicals. For the past 10 years, shows have been held regularly at the auditorium and now, suddenly, the fire minister has discovered that the devices are inadequate,” a CIT official said. The ban will freeze the CIT’s earnings from the hall, which stand at Rs 28 to Rs 30 lakh a year. “It will take at least six months and around Rs 10 lakh to meet the firemen’s demands,” he added.