Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday visited the historic 'Chowk Bazaar' in Jorhat district where a massive fire gutted over 300 shops and announced that the government will rehabilitate the affected traders.
The Union Shipping, Ports and Waterways minister took stock of the situation along with Rajya Sabha MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, local BJP MLA Hitendra Nath Goswami and Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Pulak Mahanta. "Our aim is to rehabilitate all the affected people. I have already discussed the development this morning with Tasa, Goswami and the DC," Sonowal told reporters at Jorhat.
The union minister further said that he will speak to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma regarding rehabilitation of the victims and the Assam government will take necessary steps in this regard. One of the shopkeepers appealed to Sonowal to make temporary arrangements for them so that they can start their business as soon as possible.
"We are happy that the government is planning to construct a permanent building here. This is going to take a long time. If we do not get any space during the construction period, it will be difficult for our survival," he added. On Friday, Assam Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Jogen Mohan and Jorhat Deputy Commissioner visited the site and assured the traders that all possible measures will be taken to help them once the assessment of the losses is made.
More than 300 shops turned into ashes in a devastating fire that engulfed a British-era 'Chowk Bazaar'. The blaze that broke out late on Thursday evening in the heart of Jorhat town was brought under control after nearly 10 hours of fire-fighting on Friday morning. There is no report of any casualty as all shops were closed with owners and staff having left for their homes on Thursday evening.
The shops that were damaged mostly sold grocery items, clothes, utensils, books and stationery items. Over 50 fire tenders were rushed to the bazaar to fight the flames, which is suspected to have been caused by an electrical short circuit at a shop, officials said.
Initially, 25 fire tenders had rushed to the spot, but they had a hard time navigating their way through the narrow lanes adjoining the market. Later, additional firefighters and vehicles were sent to the spot from nearby towns of Titabor, Mariani, Golaghat and Sivasagar along with those from the Air Force station in Jorhat, the Numaligarh Refinery and the ONGC.
This is the second such fire incident in Jorhat in two months. A major fire in December 2022 had gutted several shops in Marwari Patty area.