Pune: 28 months on, investigations into NCL lab fire remain inconclusive

Related News BJP misusing government agencies to rope in opposition leaders: Sharad Pawar Pune: Eight flats within a kilometre of each other burglarised in one night Maharashtra: FPCs enter retail with NAFED’s tea On the night of March 27, 2017, a major fire destroyed the then 13-month-old MAGIC lab. (Source: File) Over two years have passed but investigation in the March 2017 fire at the Indus Magic Plant at CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) is yet to unearth the cause of the blaze, an RTI filed by The Indian Express has found. Advertising On the night of March 27, 2017, a major fire destroyed the then 13-month-old Modular, Agile, Intensified and Continuous (MAGIC) lab, located in the Pilot Plant III of the NCL campus. The reply to the RTI filed by The Indian Express reads: “The investigation is still on.” In an official statement released by CSIR-NCL soon after the preliminary investigation was completed in July 2017, the CSIR committee had pegged the estimated losses of the blaze at Rs 16.56 crore. However, with several instruments and equipments inside the gutted MAGIC lab found intact despite the fire, the NCL committee downgraded the loss estimates to Rs 6.73 crore. Since the incident, two teams — one internal committee constituted by NCL and another team sent by CSIR — carried out separate investigations in the fire. A team from the Intelligence Bureau, too, visited the campus and interrogated NCL authorities. But none of these three investigative teams have got any breakthrough and the losses incurred to this public-funded lab are still unaccounted for. Advertising While the gutted lab was never repaired and has since been shut for investigative purposes, another lab, Pilot Plant IV, serving a similar purpose, was inaugurated on the campus by Shekhar Mande, director general, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in December last year. Besides the latest Pilot Plant IV, a 3D printing lab, an instrumentation lab, a catalysis test lab and a polymer membrane machine, all collectively costing Rs 20 crore, were inaugurated. An expert who was formerly attached with the State Forensics Laboratory, said, “Ideally, a fire investigation can continue for at least two to three months. Experts look for specific clues that could let them understand the cause of the fire.” Another expert elaborated on what generally causes a fire like the one at NCL, saying, “The most common reason is short circuit and lack of minimum safety standards. Also, there are instances when a cigarette butt or similar fire-triggering agents can lead to a raging fire.” Let's block ads! (Why?)

Pune: 28 months on, investigations into NCL lab fire remain inconclusive
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On the night of March 27, 2017, a major fire destroyed the then 13-month-old MAGIC lab. (Source: File)

Over two years have passed but investigation in the March 2017 fire at the Indus Magic Plant at CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) is yet to unearth the cause of the blaze, an RTI filed by The Indian Express has found.

On the night of March 27, 2017, a major fire destroyed the then 13-month-old Modular, Agile, Intensified and Continuous (MAGIC) lab, located in the Pilot Plant III of the NCL campus. The reply to the RTI filed by The Indian Express reads: “The investigation is still on.”

In an official statement released by CSIR-NCL soon after the preliminary investigation was completed in July 2017, the CSIR committee had pegged the estimated losses of the blaze at Rs 16.56 crore. However, with several instruments and equipments inside the gutted MAGIC lab found intact despite the fire, the NCL committee downgraded the loss estimates to Rs 6.73 crore.

Since the incident, two teams — one internal committee constituted by NCL and another team sent by CSIR — carried out separate investigations in the fire. A team from the Intelligence Bureau, too, visited the campus and interrogated NCL authorities. But none of these three investigative teams have got any breakthrough and the losses incurred to this public-funded lab are still unaccounted for.

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While the gutted lab was never repaired and has since been shut for investigative purposes, another lab, Pilot Plant IV, serving a similar purpose, was inaugurated on the campus by Shekhar Mande, director general, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in December last year. Besides the latest Pilot Plant IV, a 3D printing lab, an instrumentation lab, a catalysis test lab and a polymer membrane machine, all collectively costing Rs 20 crore, were inaugurated.

An expert who was formerly attached with the State Forensics Laboratory, said, “Ideally, a fire investigation can continue for at least two to three months. Experts look for specific clues that could let them understand the cause of the fire.”

Another expert elaborated on what generally causes a fire like the one at NCL, saying, “The most common reason is short circuit and lack of minimum safety standards. Also, there are instances when a cigarette butt or similar fire-triggering agents can lead to a raging fire.”

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