Mantralaya ill-equipped to fight any disaster: report
Even as the state government scrambled to get back on its feet and resume operations a day after the massive fire in Mantralaya, which has claimed five lives so far, the Mumbai fire brigade's preliminary report said the state government's headquarters was not equipped to handle a fire or any other disaster, and that the staff had not been trained to handle such a situation.mumbai Updated: Jun 23, 2012 00:42 IST
Even as the state government scrambled to get back on its feet and resume operations a day after the massive fire in Mantralaya, which has claimed five lives so far, the Mumbai fire brigade's preliminary report said the state government's headquarters was not equipped to handle a fire or any other disaster, and that the staff had not been trained to handle such a situation.
The government's lack of a disaster management plan raises questions over its capability to resume work soon. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Friday promised that work would resume by Monday.
SV Joshi, chief fire officer, Mumbai fire brigade, said Mant-ralaya's special designated officer, appointed to handle fire safety operations, was not on the spot on Thursday. “We carried out the operation without the structural plan of the building,” he said.
State officials said the fire officer was not on duty as he lost his father on June 21, but his assistants were present and helped the fire brigade.
On Friday, one of the fire officers who entered Mantralaya and has been assigned the task of preparing the final report, said: "The fire extinguishers had not been used. According to us, the staff didn't know how the use them." Officials will check whether the extinguishers were functional. "If someone had tried to douse the fire, it would not have spread so much."
Multiple agencies are investigating the incident. While the crime branch is looking at whether the fire was accident or sabotage, Chavan ordered a separate investigation into the lapses related to fire safety on Friday.
The fire brigade's final report will be ready in a week, but its preliminary report states that the sprinklers did not work.
Fire officers said once the UPS devices in the server room caught fire, it spread immediately through the wiring, which was done haphazardly. The wooden panelling, furniture and papers played "great hosts" to the fire.
Officials with the civic disaster management cell said the collapse of the communication system in Mantralaya's disaster control room worsened matters as it took them time to gauge the severity of the fire.
Chavan admitted that the going would be tough. "In Mantralaya, we work on files. In this accident, we have lost many of them. Retrieval will be a long process. There are no timelines for this," he said.
Until Mantralaya is restored, the government will have to work out of temporary offices at different locations.
All this will take its toll, possibly leading to chaos and policy paralysis, officials said. Decisions on the new industrial policy, proposed infrastructure projects such as the coastal road, student scholarships, realty projects, the proposed white paper on irrigation will now be on the backburner.
(With inputs from Poorvi Kulkarni)