• Mamata apologises for tragic Egra blast
    Statesman | 28 May 2023
  • Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, today apologised to the residents of Khadikul village for a fatal explosion that occurred at an illegal firecracker factory in the village, located within Egra police station limits in East Midnapore earlier this month.

    The incident resulted in the loss of 11 lives and left many people injured. Miss Banerjee who visited the village 11 days after the incident occurred, acknowledged that the blast could have been prevented if the state's intelligence apparatus had functioned properly and expressed her regret while speaking to the family members of the victims of the incident.

    "I will bow my head down to you and apologise for the incident," stated Miss Banerjee while distributing compensation cheques to the families of the deceased and injured. She also presented appointment letters in the state home guards to one member from each affected family.

    The chief minister emphasised that the incident highlighted the need for improved intelligence functioning to avert such disasters. Miss Banerjee informed the villagers that two individuals from the family of the primary accused, the owner of the illegal factory, had been arrested.

    She urged the residents to cooperate with the local police by providing any information regarding the presence of similar units operating illegally. She was accompanied by the State Chief Secretary, H. K. Dwivedi, during her visit. Up to now, nine individuals have been apprehended for their alleged role in the incident.

    However, the primary accused passed away three days later at a hospital in Cuttack, where he had fled with his family following the incident. During her visit, Miss Banerjee made it clear that she had come to the area without any political agenda, stating that the Egra incident had opened her eyes.

    She announced the formation of a committee led by the Chief Secretary to establish a cluster dedicated to the production of green crackers, as an alternative to traditional firecrackers.

    The cluster would be located away from densely populated areas to ensure safety. Acknowledging the economic challenges faced by some individuals who are compelled to work in illegal firecracker factories, Miss Banerjee stressed the necessity of putting an end to such activities.

    She urged locals to promptly inform the officer-in-charge of the concerned police station if they come across any instances of illegal firecracker production. Furthermore, she vowed to take action against officers who fail to act, ensuring that they would be transferred.

    The OC of Egra police station, Mousam Chakraborty was immediately transferred on account of his inaction on multiple complaints. Expressing her concern, Miss Banerjee emphasised that senior officers did not get crucial intelligence inputs, which could have prevented the tragic incident.

    She acknowledged that this negligence should have been avoided, and promised measures will be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future. Gaurango Maity, who lost his son and brother, said: "The ex-gratia amount is not much but it will help us for some time. It is the job that is important."
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