Export items gutted near Petrapole international land port
At least eight export-bound trailers carrying a large consignment of cotton bales, synthetic yarn and textile material, worth around Rs 20 crore, were gutted at a private parking lot near the Petrapole international land port in Bongaon late on Saturday night when the vehicles caught fire in mysterious circumstances.
Four fire tenders from Bongaon and Habra managed to douse the blaze after over seven hours during the early hours of Sunday morning.
The gutted trailers and other vehicles loaded with items to be exported to Bangladesh were detained at the parking lot for 36 days because of heavy congestion at the export channel through the Petrapole land port. Exporters and clearing agents claimed that at present around 8,000 export bound trailers and trucks were waiting at various parking lots in Bongaon.
Petrapole police have started a probe following a report submitted by the fire department. The police and fire officials failed to ascertain the exact cause behind the fire. However, they did not rule out a possibility of conspiracy as well.
“There was no visible source of fire. We are trying to
find out the reason behind it and also examining the conspiracy angle”, said a police officer.
The private parking area — Laxmi parking located around 1.4 km from Petrapole port — is managed by Bongaon Municipality. The facility has no security guard to monitor access of outsiders.
The incident has sparked anger among the exporters who have demanded that the Centre should ensure safe parking of the export bound vehicles during the detention period, develop required infrastructure inside the port, set up sophisticated fire station,ensure time bound export and grant permission to Benapole port based Bangladesh fire fighting personnel to enter Indian territory with their sophisticated equipment in case of a big fire.
“The demand is genuine as in the past such help was sought from Bangladesh. We will appeal to the state government to develop a fire fighting set up”, Bongaon’s administrator Gopal Seth said.