Kolkata: People cutting across religious and social barriers led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday took out a candlelight march to pay tribute to victims of the city's AMRI hospital fire tragedy which has claimed 93 lives.

Banerjee along with other eminent personalities of the city and hundreds of men, women marched silently holding tuberose stalks and candles, along the Jawaharlal Nehru Road. The march started from Birla Planetarium and ended at the Gandhi statue in Maidan area.

Banerjee along with painter Suvaprasana, Jogen Choudhury, poet Joy Goswami and Muslim clerics formed the second column of the mammoth rally. The first column was led by actress and Trinamool Congress MLA Debasree Roy along with Bengali film director Raj Chakroborty.

A candle in one hand and tuberose in the other, Banerjee walked silently as the cameramen and photographers jostled to click a snap.

Several state government ministers and Trinamool leaders also took part in the rally where many people were seen carrying posters which wished peace for the departed souls.

Traffic came to a standstill on the other side of the busy thoroughfare as people alighted from public buses and stood on both sides of the road bowing their heads as a gesture of respect to the victims of the December 9 fire holocaust.

The procession ended at the base of the Gandhi statue where a podium with names of the dead was erected.

Mamata lighted a big candle kept on the stage. Flowers and wreaths were used to pay respect at a temporary memorial built for the day.

An all faith prayer meeting saw a Hindu priest, Muslim cleric, Buddhist monk, Christian priest and Sikh religious leader reciting from their respective holy books.

The ceremony ended with all the people present reciting songs 'Aguner Parashmoni Choyawoo Prane' and 'Ragupati Raghava Raja Ram'.

'I conclude the ceremony by thanking everybody for coming here. I pray to god and Allah that all those who died rest in peace,' said Banerjee.

Government teams inspect hospital


 A West Bengal government team on Monday inspected the institution's basement to check possible radiation from machines and other expertly facilities.

A three-member team headed by Subir Ganguly, head of radiotherapists reviewed its fire safety, Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College hospital, visited the Advanced Medicare & Research Institute (AMRI) hospital and inspected the basement, from where the fire started on Friday, as several radiotherapy machines were kept there.

“We inspected the radiotherapy department and all the medical equipments there. There is no fear of radiation from the machines, though they have been badly affected by fire,” Ganguly said.

The team will be submitting its report to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

A five-member probe team headed by D.P. Biswas, additional director general of the fire department, inspected the fire safety measures at the hospital's facilities, including the blood bank and the pharmacy.

The team later visited several other hospitals. It is slated to inspect shopping malls in the city on Tuesday.

A forensic team which was earlier unable to collect evidence due to collection of water in the basement also visited the spot. A probe team headed by Joint Commissioner of Police Damayanti Sen also visited the premises.

In another development, the Siliguri municipality under Darjeeling district on Monday sealed the basement of a private nursing home in Siliguri for violating fire safety norms.

“The municipality has been warning the hospital since long to remove the hazardous materials stocked in the basement. The basement too was illegally constructed,” said D.P. Saha, a member of the municipality.

Correctional Administration Minister Shankar Chakraborty, who visited the Balurghat Hospital in South Dinajpur district over complaints of inadequate fire safety measures, ordered the authorities to get the proper facilities within a week.

“I visited the hospital and found the fire safety measures are inadequate. They have stored several objects which are vulnerable to fire. They have been ordered to remove them and get proper safety equipments,” said Chakrabarty.

Hospital's Acting Superintendent Brijesh Saha claimed the safety measures were adequate. “We will comply with the minister's order but our safety measures are up-to-date.”

(Agencies)