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Stephen Court residents unable to return home

Staff Reporter

KOLKATA: Unable to enter their homes for eight months following a devastating fire in the building that claimed 43 lives, residents of Stephen Court held a demonstration here on Wednesday.

Officials of the four agencies concerned – the Fire department, Police, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and the power supply company CESC -- in their individual capacity have been very cooperative, but for lack of coordination among them the residents have been unable to return, Debasish Guha Neogi, a resident of Stephen Court, told The Hindu.

“We submitted the required documents – a structural plan to ensure the stability of the building, fire exit and test forms of CESC -- on July 3, but there has been no progress,” Mr. Guha said, adding that the renovation and restoration of the building was urgent.

Already one monsoon season has passed. The rains have led to further weakening of the affected portions of the structure, he added.

The upper floors of the 80-year-old building were gutted in the fire on March 23. Subsequently some of the residents were allowed to return to their homes, but a majority of the building's 101 occupants were unable to do so.

Matters may have been complicated with the control of the KMC passing from the Left Front to the Trinamool Congress after the May 30 civic elections.

The Fire and Emergency Services Department is directly under the State Government and the Trinamool Congress has a stated stand of not cooperating with the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front Government.

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