The New Delhi-headquartered Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has sent its final enquiry report on the fire that had destroyed the Indus MAGIC lab inside the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) in Pune on the night of March 27.
The CSIR report, which is now in the possession of NCL management, was sent to its Pune lab earlier this week. “The CSIR committee has raised serious objections to several findings submitted by the NCL’s fact-finding internal committee…,” said sources. During its day-long visit to NCL on April 13 , the expert team from CSIR had questioned the scientists working at MAGIC lab and officials in charge of safety and security. They had also collected evidence from the site, which has been cordoned off ever since the incident. The CSIR inquiry report comes after a delay of over two months. It has been learned from reliable NCL sources that CSIR has expressed its displeasure with the initial findings of the fact-finding internal committee appointed by NCL.
This committee, comprising senior NCL staffers and security officials, had conducted a primary inquiry just days after the fire.
In a report dated June 29, The Indian Express had highlighted questions about the “compromised” safety standards of The Indus MAGIC lab. Subsequently, scientists and students working at NCL were cautioned by senior scientists, who had warned them about the serious consequences of failing to adhere to mandatory safety norms. Incidentally, neither of the teams which investigated the fire has ascertained the exact loss caused by the fire.
Officials of the Chaturshrungi police station, who were also probing the matter, had informed The Indian Express in April that the estimated loss caused by the fire was Rs 7-8 crore. However, the NCL internal team has yet again drawn the CSIR’s flak, after the Council cited discrepancies in the estimated loss amount. “This may be due to the differences in the estimation of losses… it definitely calls for clarification, as it is a public funded laboratory,” said sources.
Mysteries of Indus MAGIC lab fire
The Indus MAGIC lab, inaugurated in February 2016, was built inside the Pilot Plant III building of NCL. The lab was meant to supply and sell fine chemicals to the industry. At the time of the incident, the building was still being renovated and it was not completely ready for operations. On March 27, a major fire broke out in the lab. It took seven fire tenders two hours to bring the fire under control. Since the central government funded lab was officially closed, no casualties were reported.