Major fire at Presidency varsity

A major fire broke out early on Friday at Presidency University destroying computers, documents and research material. The fire originated in the chemistry department at the third flood on Derozio Building in the wee hours of Friday. The university was closed for Puja holidays which will continue till Diwali. Eleven fire tenders brought the blaze under control after over three hours. A fire department official said there was no fire safety measure in the university.

According to acting principal Amitabha Chatterjee, the fire was first spotted by the night guards at around 4.10 am. They informed the fire brigade as soon as they noticed the blaze and heard sounds from the third floor of the building. “The worst-affected was the organic chemistry laboratory where major instruments, organic materials, computers and documents of the research scholars got destroyed in the blaze,” former principal of Presidency College Sanjib Ghosh said. As the news of the fire spread, research scholars and post graduate students rushed to the campus to assess the magnitude of the damage. Many of them broke down and cried inconsolably after seeing the gutted lab because they had lost their labour of love.
Director general of fire brigade Gopal Bhattacharya said, “There was no fire fighting arrangement in the university as per National Building Code.” He urged the authorities to ensure that proper fire safety measures were put in place in consultation with the fire department. However, state higher education minister Sudarshan Ray Chaudhuri who visited the university later in the day said that since the fire broke out in the small hours and since the department was under lock and key, it could not be put out immediately.
He informed that chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had assured of all assistance to restore the damaged laboratory. The minister said that he had asked the Directorate of Public Instruction to inform all government colleges to keep adequate fire safety infrastructure ready in order to avoid similar mishaps. Asked if there would be an inquiry into the blaze, Mr Ray Chaudhuri said, “The forensic experts are due to visit the university shortly and will give their report.” State chief secretary Samar Ghosh said, “The state government will take a decision on setting up an inquiry committee only after seeing the forensic report.”
In the afternoon, a forensic team visited the gutted laboratory. “We could not collect samples as the heat is immense in various of the laboratories. We will once again come on Monday and collect the samples. We feel that short circuit in one of the deep cooling refrigerators was responsible for fire,” a forensic expert Jitendranath Pal said.
The Trinamul Congress lost no time in fishing in the troubled waters. Like his party chief Mamata Banerjee who discovers sabotage behind every train accident, city mayor Sovan Chatterjee immediately jumped to the conclusion that the fire was also the result of some sabotage. “Many people feel that there may be a conspiracy behind it so it should be probed,” he added.

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