'More Kolkata like fires waiting to happen'

'More Kolkata like fires waiting to happen'

“This incident was absolutely preventable. It is very unfortunate that the government departments have once aging failed to function and the common man is suffering,” Krishnamurthy, convenor of the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), told IANS.

“The government and judiciary have a lackadaisical attitude regarding this issue. If something is not done, I am sorry to say but many more similar tragedies will take place,” she added.

At least 60 people were killed, mostly due to suffocation, in a massive fire at south Kolkata's AMRI hospital Friday. The fire broke out after 3 a.m. in the basement of the hospital annexe.

According to Krishnamurthy, lack of punitive measures against culprits who flout fire safety norms in connivance with the government departments was a major reason behind such incidents.

“There is absolutely no deterrence. Give me one incident where the perpetrators have been brought to book. There is no fear of the law,” she said.

Targeting the Supreme Court, Krishnamurthy said it could definitely bring in some guidelines to prevent such incidents but for some reason wasn’t doing anything.

“I’ve proposed that a comprehensive law should be in place to deal with such man-made mass tragedies. I know the process takes time but at least the apex court can bring in some guidelines till then,” she said.

Krishnamurthy said because the Kolkata incident involved the common man, nobody seemed to be bothered. Had it happened in a five-star hotel, authorities would have jumped to action.

The Uphaar blaze took place June 13, 1997 during the screening of Hindi film “Border” and killed 59 people. Over 100 people were injured in the subsequent stampede.

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