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Friday, July 13, 2012

GOVT GUTTED Mantralaya blaze started in server room: Re-enactment

Electrical engineers and inspectors with the state's energy department now believe they have conclusively traced the origins of the June 21 fire, which charred the top four floors of Mantralaya. 
    In a report submitted to the state government on July 7, the department, which recreated the scene of the fire in a first floor room with eyewitnesses a week after the incident, has blamed a short-circuit between the UPS of the local server and a switch rack. 
    In a re-enactment, Mantralaya officials who were among the first to have noticed the fire, were asked to sit in a first-floor room (no 111), similar to the fourth-floor chamber (no 411) where they were seated that day. The furniture and equipment were arranged as in room no 411 to recreate the scene. "The eye-witnesses who first suspected sparking inside the server room were taken inside and asked to sit exactly where they were when they heard the first sparks," said a senior official. Urban department joint secre
tary Suresh Kakani, his secretary Rohidas Khale, deputy secretary Prabhakar Pawar and other two peons namely Raghuveer and Lalibai were among the first to see the sparks. Khale and Kakani, who had first heard a fire cracker sparkler-like sound, were asked to identify the direction of the sound from their respective positions. 
As superintending electrical engineer S R Bagade and electrical inspec
tor Sandhya Pol, both with the energy department, created artificial sparks at several points inside the local server room, the eyewitnesses confirmed that the sound came from a point between the UPS and the switch rack (to which computers were connected). "The exercise showed it was an electrical fire near the UPS, either on the incoming or outgoing terminal supply to the switch rack. The scene had to be recreated as the fire didn't leave even traces of wires, switch racks or other equipment," said a senior official. 
    An eyewitness told TOI that since the entrance to the server room was through Kakani's cabin, which made it difficult for people to enter and put it out. The fire spread faster when it came in contact with papers, wooden partitions and mats. Some officials said nearly 92 different wires were connected to the main server room in the new administrative building. "Once such a network catches fire, it naturally spreads faster and thus can eas
ily become uncontrollable," a source said. Opp MLAs fail to file FIR against Chavan 
    Police on Friday refused to entertain an attempt by Opposition legislators to file a case of culpable homicide against chief minister Prithviraj Chavan over the Mantralaya fire. No FIR has been registered on the case so far. 
    An application urging action 
under IPC section 304(a) for causing death by negligence was submitted to the Marine Lines police against Chavan, public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal, chief secretary J K Banthia, secretary PWD and chief fire officer of Mantralaya. "Since the crime branch is already investigating the case, there cannot be a parallel probe. We have forwarded the application to the crime branch," said an official of the Marine Lines police. The application said the persons names in the complaint had 'failed to discharge their duties and there was negligent act on their part'. —Sharad Vyas | TNN


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