A day after fire, shopkeepers peg losses at Rs 3 crore | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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A day after fire, shopkeepers peg losses at Rs 3 crore

It took 19 fire tenders over three hours to bring under control the massive fire that had broken out in the furniture market of Sector 54 on late Monday night. The fire razed 30 shops and a loss of over Rs 3 crore has been ascertained.

chandigarh Updated: May 16, 2012 23:20 IST
HT Live Correspondent

It took 19 fire tenders over three hours to bring under control the massive fire that had broken out in the furniture market of Sector 54 on late Monday night. The fire razed 30 shops and a loss of over Rs 3 crore has been ascertained. This was the fourth fire incident in the Sector-54 furniture market in the past 10 years. A major fire had broken out in 2009 when around 40 shops were gutted.

Cause of fire yet unknown
Though the fire department is yet to ascertain the exact cause of fire, preliminary investigations reveal that it might have been caused due to a short circuit in electric wires. The entire market has illegal electricity connections and the same is being run on illegally occupied land. The case is pending in the court, and as of now the market people have managed a stay in the matter.

While 11 fire tenders were from the city, five from SAS Nagar and one each from air force station, 3 BRD, and Panchkula were pressed into service.

Talking to HT, chief fire officer and joint commissioner MC Rajiv Gupta said, "We are working on the cause of fire and it would take us a couple of days to ascertain the reason. We had pressed 19 fire tenders to put off the flames and it was only by 3 am that the fire was doused."

Combustible substances aggravated fire
Shopkeepers from the market state that goods worth Rs 3 crore must have been destroyed in the fire. Of the 30 shops none had anything left after the fire. Combustible substances such as paint, thinner, and spirit further aggravated the fire, thus making it more difficult for the fire tenders to control it.

A day after the fire
For the shopkeepers of the Sector-54 market, it was a painful day as they started looking around for leftovers in their shops and calculated their losses.

These shops were the only source for many to run their household and with everything gutted it would take them a great deal to start their business again.

Jagdev Singh of Manjit Furniture said, "I have been here since 1989 and have seen four fires in the market since then. If the administration thinks our market is situated here illegally, then why can't they give us land for relocation. When a fire broke out in 2009, the governor at the time had assured us that we would be allotted a new site, but nothing has been done as yet."

Jagdev says he lost stuff of over Rs 10 lakh in the fire.

Gurnam Singh from Dhiman Furniture said, "We have no place to go and no authority has provided us help in the past. We have made several representations, but to no avail. At the moment, I am worried about rebuilding up my shop which has been destroyed. I have lost goods worth over Rs 20-lakh in the fire."

Mayor Raj Bala Malik, MC additional commissioner Lalit Siwach along with other officials visited the spot and assured help to the victims.

Local BJP president Sanjay Tandon, who also visited the spot on Tuesday, alleged that the UT administration was least bothered about the needs of the furniture vendors here. The UT administration had taken over the land in 1953 without compensating the shop owners, who took stay orders from the Punjab and Haryana high court in 1993.

On the other hand, sources in the UT administration said these shopkeepers have taken high court stay but have not taken any licence from the department.

MC to hold meeting on May 17
MC joint commissioner Rajiv Gupta has called a meeting of all the market associations to discuss fire-safety norms. Other markets in the city that are prone to fire include Shastri Market in Sector 22, Sadar Market in Sector 19, Patel Market in Sector 15 and furniture market in Sector 34.

No mock drill in past one year
Interestingly, the fire department has not conducted a mock drill in any of the markets for more than a year.

Former mayor and councillor Pardeep Chhabra said in 2009, it was decided by the House that fire zones should be demarcated by a yellow line and no vehicle would be allowed parking in that area. It was started in Sectors 22 and 19, but could not be extended to other sectors. The yellow lines in Sectors 22 and 19 have not been upgraded from the past three years and vehicles are also being parked in the demarcated area.