Mumbai fire mishap toll rises to five

3 more bodies found in southern wing corridor

As the death toll in the Maharashtra Secretariat fire rose to five after three more bodies were recovered on Friday, Opposition parties criticised the government and demanded a judicial probe into the mishap.

Officials in the fire brigade control room said the bodies were recovered from a corridor in the southern wing of the building, after the flames were finally doused in the wee hours on Friday.
However, rescue work is yet to pick up pace since the corridors have not yet cooled, they added.

Even as forensic experts and crime branch officials prepares to investigate cause of the fire that gutted the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of the building, political parties indulged in heavy duty mud-slinging.

Reacting to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s clarifications as to how his office remained unscathed while the entire sixth floor, which houses the chief minister’s office was gutted, Deputy Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar said: “I do not understand how the Chief Minister’s office managed to come out unscathed in the fire. Every other department in all the three floors were gutted...except the chief minister’s office.”

Chavan, who has admitted to lapses in safety measures, hit back at the detractors and said: “I fail to understand as to what kind of observation is this...unlike other department offices or offices of ministers which have partitions made out of plywood, the CM office has solid walls and huge doors.”

Meanwhile, opposition parties also joined the blame game with Shiv Sena leaders calling the ministers “rats scurrying to save their lives,” while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari demanded a judicial probe into the incident.

‘Time for a makeover’

NCP leader and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who flew down to Mumbai early on Friday, said: “Time for a Mantralaya (Secretariat) makeover. The proposal is gathering dust. And it is important that the state government itself takes up makeover and check out the credentials while contracting the work.”

Three years back, Maharashtra Public Works Undertaking Minister Chhagan Bhujbal had moved a proposal for a make over of the entire Mantralaya.

However, the file gathered dust during erstwhile chief minister Ashok Chavan’s tenure and after his ouster, successor Prithviraj Chavan did little to move the file.

Asked about fire auditing of the building, Chavan, without making any reference to the “re-development proposal,” said: “I have asked senior officials from Fire Department to assess the fire safety hazards and measures that need to be taken to prevent such events in future.”

Comments (+)