Two days after a major fire gutted three floors of the Maharashtra secretariat, blame game began, as public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal slammed the general administration department (GAD) — headed by Chavan — for showing disregard to rulebooks, on Saturday.
Bhujbal was reacting to reports that PWD did not comply with norms, due to which a short circuit turned into a deadly inferno that killed five persons and destroyed scores of official documents. Some civil society members have even registered a police complaint against PWD.
Bhujbal said his department, which is responsible for maintaining the seven-storey building, had complied with 31 of the 32 recommendations in the fire safety audit report, but GAD had allowed irregular construction and renovation, without taking his ministry’s permission. “Nothing can happen without GAD’s permission. We don’t allot space or approve construction and renovation (of offices),” said Bhujbal.
Chavan, however, said, “Let the experts do the job of finding reasons.”
Meanwhile, hectic efforts were on to bring the secretariat back on track within three months. The government has started restructuring lost files through district collectors, divisional commissioners and civic corporations. According to Chavan, there could be 10 lakh files in the secretariat when the fire broke out. “We have not assessed how many of them are lost.”
Inquiries into the causes of the fire have revealed that the government had not implemented recommendations made after two detailed fire audits. Architect Hafeez Contractor, who had conducted one of the audits 14 years ago, has suggested rebuilding the Mantralaya.
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