Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday called for coordination among law-enforcing agencies to tackle disasters at a time when the AMRI anger is still simmering and three more fires, two of them on Park Street, breaking out in the last two days.
Chairing a meeting at Town Hall, Mamata stressed the need to pre-empt disaster and reduce the extent of damage.
The chief minister cautioned police, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and the fire brigade to be on alert, especially in winter. “She said slum-dwellers and pavement-dwellers often burn dry leaves for warmth in winter and this is always a threat. She wants prompt response,” a senior police officer said.
Mamata advised police to keep at hand a list of water bodies in the city. “The chief minister said tackling fire becomes a problem because, in most cases, firefighters are not aware of the nearest source of water. She wants police to draw up a list of water bodies in every locality, especially congested ones, and share it with CMC and the fire brigade,” the police officer said. “The police commissioner, mayor and DG (fire services) have been asked to work in close coordination.”
The chief minister also expressed displeasure at the time taken by police to reach the spot. “She talked about complaints against delay by police. She wants police to be more prompt and to take quick decisions,” a police source said.
Mamata also sanctioned six more fire stations. Four of the sites have already been identified — Burrabazar, Tiljala, Parama Island and Garia. “Six new fire stations will be set up. Firefighters and trained disaster management personnel will be stationed at the new units to tackle the situation,” disaster management secretary Indeevar Pandey said after the meeting. There are at present 16 fire stations in Calcutta and its suburbs.
The meeting was attended by finance minister Amit Mitra, industries minister Partha Chatterjee, chief secretary Samar Ghosh, home secretary G.D. Gautama, mayor Sovan Chatterjee, police commissioner R.K. Pachnanda, Pandey and senior police officers, including the divisional heads.
Mamata asked the CMC to be more alert about illegal constructions.
Police officers informed the chief minister that a list of illegal constructions is sent to the CMC every month. CMC officials, led by the mayor, complained of inadequate police arrangement during demolition drives. “CMC officials said most of the illegal constructions were in sensitive areas and demolition cannot be carried out without police cover. The police asked to be informed at least two days in advance,” a government official said.
The chief minister asked CMC to involve police and the fire department while sanctioning building plans. “She wants strict policing to ensure safety,” Pachnanda said.