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Mantralaya fire: Copies of Adarsh documents safe, police to conduct inquiry

Putting to rest all speculation that several important files relating to the Adarsh Housing Society scam may have been destroyed in today's fire at 'Mantralaya', Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has said that all Urban Development Ministry files have been scanned and so there was no loss.

"There are around 3 crore 50 lakh pages scanned as back up. Fire fighters will continue to work throughout the night. Fire is under control now. Inquiry has been ordered. Crime branch will start inquiry. Fire started on fourth floor from room no 411," he said.

He added that ministers will continue their work from alternative locations till the premise is restored.

Prithiviraj Chavan
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has said the crime branch will investigate the fire. Pic/AFP

He said efforts on seeking information about structural audit of the Mantralaya building will take place tomorrow morning.

"Tomorrow, no visitor will be allowed in Mantralaya," Chavan told reporters here this evening.

Altogether 16 persons were injured in the incident, he said, adding that "there are no reports of anyone being killed in today's incident. No one was found trapped in any of the 14 lifts in the building".

"Video recording of the entire buildings will take place. Senior officials, including secretaries, will inspect the damage," the chief minister said.

No official work will be carried out in Mantralaya tomorrow, and all meetings scheduled have been cancelled, he said.

Some ministry offices that were damaged in the fire will be shifted to Vidhan Bhawan and Sahyadri Guest House or the Mantralaya annexe, he said.

"Tomorrow, the offices will be open. Saturday and Sunday being holidays, officials will be called as per requirement," he said.

The "orderly" evacuation of thousands of people from the building could be attributed to the fire drill that takes place in Mantralaya on second Saturday of every month, the CM said.

Fire fighters at Mantralaya
Fire fighters use a water jet to contain the fire as smoke billows out from the Mantralaya. Pic/AFP 

Meanwhile, officials of CBI and the judicial panel probing the Adarsh scam said they have copies of all relevant documents.

As a massive fire engulfed several floors of the 7-storey state government secretariat building, housing among others the Urban Development department, in the eye of the Adarsh controversy, there were strong suspicions that crucial files might have been lost forever.

However, both CBI, which was handed over the probe by the Ministry of Defence and the two-member inquiry commission set up by the state government to look into allegations of irregularities, said they had copies of all relevant documents relating to the 31-storey plush building in south Mumbai.

"We had taken all documents required as part of investigations from the state government last year itself soon after registration of the FIR. Even hard drives from the computers in various departments like the Urban Development department were seized by us last year," a senior CBI officer said.

An official from the judicial panel said even if some documents were destroyed in the 'Mantralaya' blaze, it would not impact the probe as they have copies. 

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