Mumbai:  Even as flames have encased the highly secured Maharashtra government headquarters popularly known as Mantralaya, but the reasons behind the major incident has remained doubtful.

However, the initial reports suggest that the fire may have been caused due to a short-circuit, which stands as a common reason for such accidents, but accident of such a high scale in a highly secure zone where safety precautions and fire preparedness are intact raises several obvious questions. 

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Inquiry ordered

Observing the sensitivity of the situation, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has ordered inquiry in the ill-fated accident. “The Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police will probe the fire incident at 'Mantralaya',” Chavan announced on Thursday.

Asked by reporters whether it could be an act of sabotage, he said, "We don't want to jump to conclusion. Crime Branch will probe the incident." The police wing usually probes cases which are underworld-related or those which are sensitive in nature.

Responding to a query whether important documents were lost in the fire, Chavan said that 3.18 crore pages from 2.27 lakh files were scanned and were thus safe.

Apprehensions have been expressed that several important files relating to the Adarsh Housing Society scam may have been destroyed in the fire. When contacted, a crime branch officer said "In our probe, it will be clear if it was really a case of short-circuit or a deliberate act."

CM assures Adarsh Scam probe will not be hampered

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan on Friday dismissed the speculation that the massive fire in the state secretariat on Thursday would hamper the probe into Adarsh Housing Society scam.

Referring to speculation that files related to Adarsh housing scam may have been damaged, Chavan, who also holds the Urban Development portfolio, said the papers are with CBI and the judicial commission.

"We have photocopies with us. Hence, the speculation that Adarsh probe will be hampered due to the fire is ruled out," the Chief Minister said. Files of Land Ceiling department too were safe, he told reporters.

File reconstruction top priority: CM

The reconstruction of documents in damaged files is the government's top priority, Maharashtra Chief Minister said and added that 2.25 lakh files had been digitalised and 3.18 crore papers had been scanned prior to the incident.

"Hard disks of damaged computers will be retrieved, for which assistance of NASCOM and IT experts, including foreign agencies, will be taken," Chavan said.
All the files at Mantralaya will be put in steel trunks and taken to a safe place, he said. Secretaries of respective departments had been entrusted the task of recovering the files, he added.

Entry to the building was prohibited and the access would be allowed only after a structural audit, the Chief Minister said. “The annexe building is safe while the top three floors of the main building have been damaged. The annexe building would be cleared in two days. Even in the main building, the first three floors have been flooded with water though there is no damage due to the fire," he said.


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