MALDA, 22 APRIL: Another devastating fire within a gap of one week engulfed huge area of Gouripur village under Bhakri gram panchayet of Chanchal II block today and at least 700 hundred villagers have been rendered homeless by the fire. Though the villagers claimed that around 200 houses were gutted, the block administrations claimed that the number of houses scorched was restricted to 80. The late arrival of fire brigade has been blamed by both the Congress and the Left Front for today’s catastrophe.
It has been learnt that the fire originated from the kitchen of a family which immediately caught the heaps of dry straws piled around. The fire was broke out rapidly and fire brigade was informed. But the locals alleged that the fire brigade team reached the spot at least 45 minutes late and by then the fire assumed devastating form. Villagers tried to extinguish the fire with water from deep tube-well, local ponds and running shallow machine but those were not of much help.
RSP MLA of Malatipur Rahim Boxi said: “More than 183 thatched houses were completely gutted. In addition some concrete buildings were largely affected too.” “Fire brigade was quite late in reaching the spot and that too with only one engine. By then the houses were burnt to ashes,” Mr Boxi added.
The villagers claimed that good number of cattle died in the fire and the entire village was filled with choking smoke. A villager Lal Mohammed said that he had withdrawn Rs 1.40 lakh from bank for the wedding of his daughter which was completely gutted. Another villager Mohammed Ali had a huge financial loss too as the cash he had kept after selling his crops was burnt to ashes.
Chanchal Congress MLA Asif Mehboob said: “It was a formidable fire. Dry food and tarpaulin have been distributed among the victim families yet relief isn’t sufficient. I would speak to the sabhadhipati of Malda Zilla Parishad to help those shelterless villagers.” Conceding that the fire brigade has lack of infrastructure Mr Mehboob said: “I would speak to the fire brigade minister personally to improve the infrasdtructure of fire brigade in North Malda.” He also informed that he would provide a small car with engine to local fire station.
RSP MLA Mr Boxi said: “There is only one engine for six blocks of North Malda. I would raise the issue in the assembly and we would organize movement demanding the building of shelter of these homeless people.” Mr Boxi also alleged that the relief was insufficient compared to the number of victims.
Block development officer (BDO) of Chanchal II Bhaskar Mazumdar said: “80 houses have been gutted. We are providing relief to the victims.” Deputy magistrate Ashok Sarkar informed that dry food as well as tarpaulin have been distributed among the victims families.