Kolkata fire: Caretaker, assistant in 14-day custody

A notice informing public about demolition work hangs on the gates of the Stephen Court building in Kolkata on Thursday

The caretaker of the fire-ravaged heritage building on Park Street and his assistant were on Thursday remanded to 14-day police custody as the blame game intensified with the Chief Minister warning civic officials of stern action over the ‘racket’ in illegal constructions.

Tarun Bagadia, the caretaker of Stephen Court, and his assistant Ramshankar Singh, arrested on negligence and other charges, were sent to police custody by a court of the chief metropolitan magistrate.

Acting on a petition, the Calcutta High Court granted interim stay on the demolition of any portion of the 150-year-old Stephen Court.

Debraj Sharma and other residents of Stephen Court submitted that the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, in the name of demolishing the two top floors of the building, was destroying their property and not allowing them to enter.

The fire that broke out on Tuesday claimed 24 lives.

While Fire Services Minister Pratim Chatterjee put the number of missing at 24, Kolkata Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakraborty said 12-15 people were untraceable.

Buddhadeb talks tough

Facing public outrage over the absence of safety norms, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee accused the civic administration of being hand in glove with the ‘coterie’ of illegal builders.

“The top floors of Stephen Court are illegal. We are investigating what the KMC’s role was at that time…The city has a coterie of illegal builders with whom the administration is involved. Exemplary punishment will be given. The fire has taught the government to intervene in such situations immediately,” he said in the State Assembly.

He went on to say that “a racket is working” in connivance with a section of the administration.

Search still on

Firemen continued search for the third day for those missing after the fire in the building as a stench was coming from the rubble on the upper floors.

“We can’t rule out more bodies as debris is yet to be cleared,” a fire brigade official said.

The residents demanded that they be allowed into the building, which was out of bounds for them, to collect their valuables.

The police and KMC officials had a tough time in facing the demonstrators, who included women with some lunging at the officials. “Save our houses. Don’t demolish them,” read one of the posters of the demonstrators.

Pepsico engages 12,000 farmers in contract farming

Riding on high sales of its snacks brands like Lays and Uncle Chipps, Pepsico has engaged 12,000 farmers across the country for contract farming of potato.

“There are 12,000 farmers doing contract farming of potato for us involving 16,000 acres of land,” Executive Vice-president of Pepsico Holdings (agro-business) Nischint Bhatia told PTI.

He said that out of the 12,000 farmers, 6,500 of them are in West Bengal working 2,600 acres.

Bhatia said Pepsico’s contract farming had picked up very fast, adding that the company had procured 22,000 tonnes of potato in the last harvesting season.

He said that with the growing sales of its snacks brands, the company would adopt for more in the country for contract farming.

At present, Pepsico is involved in the contract farming for potato only.

Bhatia said that farmers were ensured a captive off take even in periods of glut and also a remunerative price.

He said Pepsico was buying potatoes at Rs. 6 per kilo from the farmers, which was higher than what others were getting by selling the crop to the intermediaries.

Asked whether the company would enter into contract farming for other crops, Bhatia said that the company was planning to follow a similar line for oats.

He said oats were presently being imported for its Quaker Oats brand and the company was in talks with various agricultural universities for cultivating it in the country.

“It is still in the research stage and may take three to four year’s time,” Bhatia said.

He said oatmeal was becoming a popular breakfast cereal in India due to health reasons.

Death toll in Park Street fire rises to 24

Eight more bodies were recovered from the 150-year-old heritage building in upscale Park Street, raising the toll in the devastating fire that swept the building yesterday to 24, fire brigade sources said today.

Firefighters who began search operations last night from the top floor of the Stephen Court, housing restaurants, offices and residences, said the bodies were mainly recovered from the fifth and sixth floors of the seven-storeyed building.

Stating that the fire was completely under control although smoke was billowing out from one or two pockets, police said 20 of the injured were admitted to various hospitals.

So far six of the dead have been identified. Missing reports had been filed for 29 others, they said.

The sources said the search operations were continuing this morning but it was unlikely that there were any bodies trapped in the building.

A team of forensic experts will visit the spot to ascertain the cause of the fire.

Preliminary investigations indicated that the fire may have broken out due to a short circuit in a lift between the fifth and sixth floors.

Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya had said the burnt portion of the building would be pulled down.

Anxious relatives thronged various city hospitals and were seen waiting in front of the morgue of the SSKM hospital to identify the bodies last night.

Stephen Court death count soars to 24

Kolkata: The death toll soared to 24 Wednesday in a fire which broke out in the Stephen Court building in the heart of Kolkata’s bustling Park Street Tuesday.

While four bodies were found Tuesday night, 14 other charred bodies were discovered early Wednesday from the sixth floor of the highrise, an officer in the state police control room said.

Twelve bodies have been identified so far. Twenty people, who were in the residential-cum-commercial building at the time of the fire, were still missing.

With the fire under control in all four blocks of the heritage building, police and fire brigade personnel were conducting intense searches in rooms on the upper floors, stair cases and terraces.

“Four completely charred bodies were recovered from the sixth floor of the building a little before midnight. Fourteen other bodies were found early Wednesday,” police said.

The death of six people, most of whom had jumped from the upper floors in a desperate bid to save themselves from the fire, had been reported Tuesday evening.

Twenty people were injured in the blaze that swept through the upper floors of the eight-storied building which houses mainly call centres, other offices and residences.

A forensic team is scheduled to visit the building Wednesday to collect samples in order to ascertain the cause of the fire. The Stephen Court houses the popular Peter Cat restaurant and is close to the iconic Flurys tea room.

Two dead in Kolkata building fire – Two persons died

Two persons died and at least 15 people were injured when a fire broke out in a multi-storied building on the upmarket Park Street in the city hub Tuesday, police said. Several people were feared trapped.

Fifteen fire tenders and over a hundred firemen have been rushed to control the blaze, which started within an elevator shaft in the building, police said

The ground floor of this building has the popular restaurant called Peter Cat. The building also houses the iconic confectionery Flury’s.

The fire began at 2.30 pm, at 2.45 pm firemen reached the spot and operation to rescue people from the fifth and sixth floors began at 3 pm and the Rapid Action Force was pressed in to control the crowds at 3.15 pm.

At least 15 people have been admitted to hospital, said Javed Shammim, Joint Commissioner of Police. Shammim said he couldn’t comment on the number of people injured.

Major Fire Breaks At Kolkata – Stephen Court Building

Kolkata, March 23, Massive fire breaks in the heart of kolkata Tuesday afternoon in a multi-storey Stephen Court Building in Park Street. Many has been trapped inside the building. The injured has been rushed to SSK hospital. 30 fire tenders rushed to the building
Major Fire Breaks At Stephen Court Building In Kolkata
The Stephen Court Building is very near to Park Hotel. Music World and Flury’s confectionary is on the ground floor of the building.

People are trapped in the 5th and 6th floor of the building.

Update: CNN-IBN reports two persons died. Times Now reports six people critically injured.
kolkata_fire
fire in kolkata building

Major fire engulfs Kolkata building; many trapped

Many people were feared trapped in a major fire that engulfed a 100-year-old building in Kolkata on Tuesday.

Massive flames leapt off several floors of the Stephen Court building on Park Street even as fire fighters tried to control the situation. The building is located opposite the one housing Flurys, the city’s iconic confectionery.

Pratim Chatterjee, Bengal’s Minister for Fire and Emergency Services, told Headlines Today that 40 fire tenders had been deployed. He refuted claims that there was a delay in starting rescue operations.

The fire appeared to have spread to several floors of the building. Heavy smoke was seen billowing out of the windows.

Fire fighters were using ladders to climb the building. A man trying to escape by scaling down the building’s façade was seen losing balance and falling to the ground.