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Ajit Pawar inspects Serum Institute of India building where fire broke out, says ‘premature to speculate over reason’

Serum Institute of India fire: "We will know about it by Friday after an audit of the site by the officials concerned...," Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar told reporters after the brief visit.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: January 22, 2021 11:16:58 am
Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance, Maharashtra government, Mumbai latest news, shiv sena mumbai, ncp mumbai, congress mumbai, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi, Ajit Pawar news, mumbai karnataka news, indian expressMaharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. (File)

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar visited the Serum Institute of India (SII) campus in Manjari on Thursday and inspected the newly-constructed six-storey building where a fire had broken out earlier in the day, killing five people.

Pawar said an audit will be conducted of the building where the fire had broken out to ascertain the exact reason behind the incident, and to find out if all the guidelines that an industrial unit needs to follow and precautions that a construction site needs to undertake were being taken.

“It will be premature to speculate over the reason behind the fire at this moment. We will know about it by Friday after an audit of the site by the officials concerned…,” Pawar told reporters after the brief visit.

On whether there may be higher than five casualties, he said it was unlikely but Fire Brigade personnel will be able to confirm that only on Friday morning as there was complete darkness inside the building, since the power line had been disconnected. “There’s still smoke inside the rooms and fire officials are working on clearing it,” he said.

Pawar added, “Serum is a very important institute. Due to the present pandemic, the entire country or rather the world is looking at it for production of the Covid-19 vaccine. Hence, it’s all the more important to know what exactly happened. I couldn’t speak to (SII CEO) Adar Poonawalla as he is abroad and will return on Friday. (SII Chairman and Managing Director) Cyrus Poonawalla wasn’t available. But I am sure that Serum will also conduct its own inquiry to find out what happened.”

Pawar said that the building which caught fire does not house any laboratory at present and hence there was no reason to worry about the impact on the supply of Covishield vaccine.

“A neighbouring building is producing a rotavirus vaccine. Serum wanted to expand the production and hence was preparing the present site to house a lab. Prima facie, it appears that there was no loss to any laboratory. But I won’t be able to state anything with clarity because it’s too early,” said Pawar.

Pawar said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was scheduled to visit Serum Institute on Friday morning and he will also take a call on announcing financial aid for workers who have died in the fire.

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