A major fire broke out in the basement of the four-storey building of the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT), Sector 17, which later collapsed killing at least four firemen.
One of the deceased was identified as Amandeep Singh, who was posted at the Sector 11 fire station. Later in the evening, the army was called in for rescue operations.
The entire rescue operation was being carried out under the lights of vehicles by ill-equipped firemen as there was no power and even the streetlights were not functioning. The operation was on till the filing of the report, which was around 11.30pm.
The fire broke out around 4.50pm on Sunday and later spread to other floors, causing destruction of equipment and key data of the Punjab government as well as Chandigarh administration and municipal corporation (MC). However, there is no immediate information on whether there is any backup of the data.
As many as 17 fire tenders from Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and Panchkula, including one from the air force station, were rushed to the spot (SCO 114-116), but they failed to douse the flames.
Meanwhile, senior officials of UT administration, MC and police reached the spot. MC commissioner-cum-officiating deputy commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh, UT adviser KK Sharma, inspector general RP Upadhyaya and senior superintendent of police Sukhchain Singh reached the spot.
The poor coordination of various departments also came to the fore as no senior officer either from UT administration or MC reached the spot when the fire broke out. The officials reached when the building collapsed.
The NIELET, which is an autonomous scientific society of the department of electronics and information technology, government of India, processes government data for various utilities. Its major works include generating water and power bills of Chandigarh residents and collecting property tax (commercial) since 2004. It recently also started processing data digitalisation for the recruitment of sweepers in MC.