Despite government offices across the city pulling up their socks after the inferno that resulted in the death of 5 people at Mantralaya last week, it seems that Central Railway officials have still not woken up to the importance of fire safety.
After the BMC cleaned up its act by clearing blocked passages and routes of escape in case of a fire, other government bureaus have also started to follow suit.
However, the CR annex building that houses offices of the senior functionaries of the Mumbai division, is still cluttered with heaps of old files, wooden and steel cupboards and discarded sofa sets.
A passage on the third floor of the building, which has offices of the signal telecommunications department and the engineering wing of the railways on the other side, is blocked by the files making the building vulnerable.
Fire brigade officials have repeatedly, and in detail, specified that the rescue operations and fire fighting were severely hindered last Thursday, as the exit points and passages in the Mantralaya were crammed with old and used furniture.
An official from CR claimed that it has been over a month that junk has been lying around, blocking the passageway leading to the exit. “There’s hardly any space for two people to walk freely, and it could get a lot worse in case of an emergency,” added the official.
It’s surprising that even after the DRM building diagonally connected to the annex building had caught fire in 2010, the railway authorities are yet to take any steps to make their premises fire proof.
Even back then, fire brigade officials at the site had complained that there wasn’t adequate space for manoeuvring the fire engines to come right outside the spot of the incident, and so, they had to park it on the neighbouring road. They also had to connect the fire engines with extended pipes due to this.
On June 23, MiD DAY reported about the ill preparedness of the Railway authorities (A few top-notch safety features, but plenty of must-dos ignored) as far as tackling fire is concerned.
Former Chief Fire Officer Kiran Kadam, who accompanied MiD DAY had pointed out that fire fighting apparatus had either been missing, or were not in working condition in the CR’s old heritage building.
Lesson not learnt
Dec 17, 2010: The new annexe building of the Central Railways caught fire at CST. This cell is on the first floor, above the Divisional Railway Manager’s office, who heads the Mumbai division of CR.
Dec 9, 2010: A major fire took place inside the CR Employees Co-operative Society office due to a cylinder blast. The small shop run by this society and the canteen adjacent to it was blackened with smoke. Nearly 30 cylinders were found close to the place of fire, which however were shifted on time.
Dec 17, 2010: A fire occurred in the CR’s disaster management cell where primary reason was short-circuit in air conditioner.