iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, March 17, 2013
A major fire broke out at room number 702 on the seventh floor of the Punjab civil secretariat at Sector 9 here on Sunday evening.
The incident took place around 5pm and important documents of agriculture, mandi, animal husbandry and forest branches lying on tables were gutted. Besides, 14 computers, furniture, six fans were destroyed.

Sources said the fire broke out after one of the employees, working till 4pm at the room, might have forgotten to turn off a computer.

Roshan Sunkaria, principal secretary, general administration, Punjab, reached the spot. He said: "I will conduct an inquiry into the incident. It seems that a short circuit might have led to the fire. The report will be submitted within a week."

He said the room where the incident took place was a big hall where records of various departments were kept.

Rajeev Gupta, chief fire officer of the Municipal Corporation (MC), said: "Four fire tenders were pushed into service and we were able to douse the flames within 30 minutes. Though the reason for the fire is yet to be ascertained, it seems that a short circuit might have led to the loss."

Talking about the safety measures, he said: "We have found that fire detection and fighting systems on the floor were lying defunct. We will conduct a survey and indicate the discrepancies regarding the functioning of the firefighting system at the civil secretariat."

In September last year, an inspection conducted by the fire and emergency department of the Chandigarh MC found that most of the government buildings, including the civil secretariat, were flouting fire-safety norms.

The inspection also revealed that some buildings did not have firefighting equipment, while others had non-functional systems to control fire. Even notices were issued to them, but nothing has been done so far in this regard.

Badal orders probe

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has ordered a probe into the incident here on Sunday.

Roshan Sunkaria, principle secretary of the general administration, has been assigned the inquiry. "He has been asked to submit the inquiry report within a week," said an official spokesperson.

He has also been asked to ascertain the circumstances that led to the fire, besides suggesting remedial measures to ensure that such incidents were not repeated.

The Punjab government has not disclosed the assessment of the loss so far.