What caused the fire which broke out in a staircase on the second floor of the home ministry building in North Block in New Delhi on June 24? The electrical division of Central Public Works Department (CPWD) in a reply to an RTI application says that it was caused by a burning bidi or cigarette stub thrown on waste paper basket.
The fire was described as minor by the fire department, The fire was doused and no major damage was reported.
However, it had occurred within days of a massive fire at the Mantralaya or the Maharashtra state secretariat building in Mumbai and raised concerns over fire safety in key ministries in the national capital.
The reply to a Right to Information application filed by Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga to seek information on the incident says that an area just above the place where the fire started was used by some people for smoking.
“A fire broke out in the staircase June 24 around 2 pm and damaged a wooden door and some electric cables,” the CPWD says.
“On inspecting the site, cardboards being used as mats, water bottles, cigarette stubs, etc, were found. It was also found that immediately above the fire affected portion, the place was being used by some persons regularly for sitting and other activities.”
“It seems the fire occurred due to persons, who usually used this place, would have thrown burning bidi or cigarette stubs through the window on the waste papers,” it adds.
The reply also says that access to the fire affected area was through a terrace which was opened only twice a day, but does not explain how the smokers reached the spot.
Since October 2008 smoking is banned in government as well as private offices