A fire swept through a new, modern canteen about 15 ft away from the famed Pramod-da’s canteen of Presidency University early on Monday morning, even as it hosts the bicentenary celebrations. President Pranab Mukherjee and former prime minister Manmohan Singh are scheduled to attend the programme on the last day of the celebrations on January 20 at Derozio Hall on the same campus.
No one was injured in the blaze, which triggered a wave of concern for the well-being of Pramod Sai, popularly known as Pramod-da (da is a shortened version of dada which means elder brother in Bangla) by Presidency students and generations of alumni. Incidentally, Pramod-da, who is around 60 years old, was sleeping in a room near the site of the blaze. He was inundated with phone calls enquiring after his well-being.
“I am fine. Nothing happened to me. I was sleeping in an adjacent room when the fire broke out soon after 5 pm,” he told HT. “I ran and joined people here to try and douse the flames,” he added, even as he received anxious visitors.
The fire did not spread beyond the modern canteen, which is housed in a stand-alone building and has no connection with the main administrative building and the Derozio Hall.
“The fire has been doused completely. We will find out how the fire spread. Our men tried to tackle the fire with the basic infrastructure that we have here,” said the registrar of the university, D Konar.
Six fire engines were pressed into service to douse the flames. According to fire department sources, the flames could have spread from the kitchen.
This is not the first time that fire has damaged the hallowed Presidency University. On September 9, 2016, a fire broke out at the central library of the university that is home to more than 3.73 lakh books and 1.5 lakh periodicals collected over a century.
On August 27, 2014, there was a fire at the physics laboratory. On October 28, 2010 a fire destroyed the chemistry lab. The university has been modernised for the bicentenary celebrations (January 5 to 20) for which a number of scholars and dignitaries have come to the campus.
The origins of the university can be traced back to an educational institution established on January 20, 1817. The institution made a significant contribution to the Bengal renaissance.
Presidency University now has four buildings, of which two — the main administrative building and the Baker Building — have been declared heritage structures.