New Delhi: The fire
that broke out at the union home ministry in June was caused by a
burning bidi or cigarette stub thrown on waste paper basket, says
the electrical division of Central Public Works Department (CPWD)
in a reply to an RTI application.
The fire, described as minor by the fire department, broke out in
a staircase on the second floor of the home ministry building in
North Block in Delhi June 24.
The place of fire, according to the ministry at that time, was
close to the offices of the home minister.
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
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 p.m. 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.
"To access the place where the fire had taken place one has to
enter from the terrace which is always locked and is opened twice
a day by CISF (Central Industrial Securities Force) personnel at
the time of hoisting and lowering the national flag," the reply
In India, smoking is banned in public places, including government
and private offices since October 2008.