Chavan takes stock of Mantralaya fire

June 22nd, 2012 - 4:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 22 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, taking stock of the situation after a fire ravaged the state secretariat, Friday said all efforts will be made to normalise working of the Mantralaya at the earliest.

Chavan also expressed grief for the death of five people, whose bodies were recovered from the building late Thursday and early Friday.

Briefing media persons after a cabinet meeting in Vidhan Bhavan, the chief minister said they had taken stock of the situation and were making alternative arrangements for the secretariat functioning and taking safety and security measures.

The fire, which broke out Thursday, gutted four floors of the seven-storey building.

Chavan also announced that no one would be allowed to enter the building till the completion of its structural audit.

“Unless and until a fire department audit of the building’s structure is carried out and the building cleared, nobody will step into the Mantralaya,” he told reporters.

However, some ministers reportedly went in Friday morning to see the damage the fire has caused to their offices.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of employees who reported for work at the Mantralaya were not allowed to go in over safety concerns.

The ministers and some officials started work from alternative offices.

The fire first broke out in room no. 411 on the fourth floor of the secretariat in the heart of Mumbai’s central business district Thursday afternoon. It quickly engulfed the three top floors.

The blaze has claimed five lives so far.

Speaking about the safety concerns, Chavan said the Mantralaya would stay closed for two days and reopen Monday.

“The structural audit is under way and there is a possibility that the top floors might just collapse as they have been weakened by the fire. Hence, it is risky to allow anyone in,” he said.

When questioned about the files of the Adarsh Housing Society scam that were kept on the fourth floor, Chavan said that all files were safe.

“All Adarsh files are safe. Most files have been given to the Central Bureau of Investigation and they have also been scanned and their copies have been kept safely,” he said.

He said all other files that were saved from the fire would be taken to a safe place in a sealed truck.

He ruled out sabotage as alleged by opposition parties. But he said all angles would be probed by the crime branch.

“We are having a meeting with the opposition leaders this evening and we will brief them and answer all their queries then,” he said.

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