The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blaze fails to put Writers’ on guard

Writers’ Buildings on Friday remained indifferent to the threat of fire lurking at every corner, a day after a blaze gutted the third floor of E block.

Smokers assembled at several points for their hourly puff and tea-sellers catered to customers using stoves and heaters. Clerks and officials walked past heaps of documents that lay on the corridors of the four blocks behind the main block — A, B, C and D.

The third-floor corridor leading to B block was the most vulnerable with bundles of polythene and documents lying around. Visitors and employees sat on them, smoking and sipping tea.

The situation in F and G blocks, which house key departments like public works, social welfare, judicial services, finance and police, was scarcely better.

“This is the way it has always been. If the administration believes that people will stop lighting up because there’s a ban on smoking at Writers’, it is mistaken,” said a senior labour department official.

An official of the estate department, which maintains Writers’, said electrical wires are hanging so precariously in places that only luck prevents a mishap.

“We would recommend a smokers’ corner and new wiring at Writers’,” said Dhurjyoti Sengupta, the director of the state forensic laboratory.

“The reports on the fire will be available in a fortnight. I promise stern action against whoever is responsible,” said fire services minister Pratim Chatterjee.

Officials of the laboratory on Friday asked the estate department to furnish the layout of different departments and the approximate number of employees in each.

“It’ll take time to provide the data,” said an estate department official.

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