The fight with the fire at Khanna Paper Mills continued for the second consecutive day on Wednesday, with it showing no signs of ebbing. Though no casualty has been reported, the mill owners have pegged their losses at Rs 150 crore.
Deputy Commissioner Rajat Aggarwal, who has been keeping a close eye on the incident, said: "We are continuing to maintain a vigil inside and around the mill, as flames are still bellowing out of the heaps of waste paper." Describing the situation as under control, the DC said 39 fire tenders were battling the flames after more than 24 hours.
The primary target of the administration is to ensure that the fire does not spread to the residential area behind the factory premises, Aggarwal said. He made it clear that there was no loss of human life.
In a joint press conference along with police commissioner RP Mittal and mill director Suneet Kochhar, the DC said, "The fire broke out around 1:15 pm on Tuesday and an alert was sounded within 15 minutes. Looking into the nature of the fire, about 50 fire tenders were rushed in from various districts of the state. And to control things further, the army was called in and support was taken from the airport."
The aim was not only to control the fire but also ensure security to the houses close to the mill complex. Residents have already been evacuated, Aggarwal said.
On the status of fire, Aggarwal said, "If winds do not blow, we will be able to extinguish it completely within the next 24 hours." And, though the situation looked better on Wednesday, the authorities continued to monitor the operation closely. A four-member team from the fire-fighting wing of Ministry of Home Affairs also reached the spot to assess the situation.
On the possible cause behind the fire, the DC said: "The reason behind the fire is still not known. Our priority is to save life and property. We will definitely look into the reasons once the fire is extinguished." The Administration will also assess any loss to the residential area close to the complex and follow the procedure for compensation in case of any damage, the DC added.
On a question on any advisory being issued to the mill regarding precautions for residential areas close to the complex, the DC said: "Everything will be analysed and action will be taken." Since the police have made a DDR entry of the incident, police commissioner RP Mittal said, "Investigation will be done only after a complaint is made."
Meanwhile, stressing that the company had suffered a loss of Rs 150 crore, Director of Mill, Suneet Kochhar said, "About 75,000 tonnes of paper has been destroyed in this fire. Our production is closed and no dispatches will be made for the next 10 days at least."
When asked about the reason behind the fire, Kochhar said, "We have no objection to any investigation. We, on our own part, are investigating the reason behind the fire." The fire is an eye opener for the entire state, as it points towards an urgent need to upgrade firefighting facilities.