The CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) will seek forensic help to further investigate the cause of the fire which broke out at Indus MAGIC Lab on March 27 and will probe the safety of equipment inside the lab.
Pune Newsline had in a report on June 29 questioned the existing safety measures in the lab.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the NCL management has also decided to probe the readiness of this lab, which was manufacturing soft chemicals for industry despite being under renovation for the last three years. This has raised doubts about the lab’s capacity for full scale operations at the time of its induction.
“CSIR-NCL will internally probe into the procedures followed during the construction of the MAGIC building, the specifications of materials used, fire and safety devices installed and the readiness of the MAGIC lab to conduct large scale chemical processes before the building was fully commissioned,” the statement said.
A major fire in the Pilot Plant III, which housed the 13-month-old MAGIC lab, caused it to completely burn down on the night of March 27 this year. Though there were no casualties, the NCL Fact Finding Committee had estimated the loss caused by the fire at Rs 6.73 crore.
After initial investigations conducted by the Fact Finding Committee into the safety, security, medical personnel and scientists from NCL, a thorough probe was also carried out by an expert team of the Council of Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR), which had visited NCL on April 13. The team was supposed to submit its findings in May.
But after completing its investigation, the CSIR sent its final report to NCL only last week, still failing to nail the exact cause of the fire.
“The CSIR committee could not arrive at the exact reason behind the fire as the furniture and other materials inside MAGIC lab had completely gutted, leaving little evidence for the probing team to find answers,” the statement said, ruling out possibility of sabotage.
During its visit, the CSIR committee realised that the MAGIC lab housed numerous high end equipment and instruments, consumables and chemicals worth Rs 16.56 crore. But the Fact Finding Committee said the losses incurred were worth Rs 6.73 crore given that some instruments and equipment were not fully damaged and could be reused.
The investigation in this matter, currently under progress at Chaturshrungi police station, will continue and forensic help would be sought upon requirement, the statement said.
The NCL took four months to initiate a fire safety audit.
Pune Newsline on July 6 had reported that following the MAGIC lab fire, the NCL management was considering initiating a fire safety audit of some of its labs and was in talks with a private agency for the purpose. In its statement issued on Thursday, the NCL has said to have appointed an external fire safety audit team that will survey and pinpoint specific improvements and precautionary steps to be taken in the future.