Millennium Post

Shops gutted in Siliguri market

Darjeeling: Seven shops were gutted in a fire at Bidhan Market in Siliguri on Tuesday.

The fire broke out around 3am. "The exact cause of the fire is not yet known. Prima facie it could have been caused by a short circuit or even from lightening," said fire personnel Binay Sarkar.

Five engines were pressed into service and the flames was brought under control at around 9am. The shops that were gutted included shops selling utensils and cosmetics.

Incidentally, Bidhan Market, one of the busiest commercial spaces in Siliguri, is highly vulnerable to fires. There are 1600 kiosks in the market.

As there are some complications over land none of the kiosks have ownership documents.

Hence all the kiosks are constructed of wood, ply-boards and tin sheets. There are no concrete shops.

"Fires break out regularly. We had a fire in December last year in which five shops were gutted. We had then requested the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority to revamp the market and construct an underground water reservoir. Despite assurances nothing was done," stated Subroto Saha, president, Bidhan Market Byabsahi Samity.

Ranjan Sarkar, TMC councillor and leader of the Opposition, Siliguri Municipal Corporation said they would talk to the SJDA so that the market can be revamped

with proper safety measures in place. Goutam Deb, Tourism minister will be visiting the market on Wednesday and will meet the affected shopkeepers.

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