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Not Alls Well with PU

Nothing appears to be going right for the prestigious Panjab University Chandigarh. The last ambers of the raging student protests over the steep fee hike, which was later moderated by the authorities, were yet to die down, when a devastating fire ravaged a major portion of the first floor of the sprawling Administration block on the intervening night of Saturday-Sunday, destroying furniture and records and damaging the building.

It took the PU staff and the fire tenders, which were rushed to the spot, nearly two hours to bring the fire under control, though the fire fighters continued to douse the last flames even after nine hours of the fire being noticed.

Not Alls Well with PU, Lifeinchd

The extent of the damage could be fathomed from the fact that Vice Chancellor of the university Prof Arun Kumar Grover, accompanied by the Registrar and other senior functionaries and faculty members, had to address a hurried called press conference to assure everyone that though an unspecified number of documents and files had been gutted in the fire, all vital data was safe in servers located in another building.
Not Alls Well with PU, Lifeinchd
Prof Grover while asserting that there was no cause for suspecting foul  play as of now, assured that a proper inquiry will be ordered immediately into all aspects, including the cause of the fire and the extent of damage. Admitting to certain loopholes in the security systems, he said taking a lesson from the “unfortunate incident” a complete security assessment of the PU campuses would be undertaken.
Not Alls Well with PU, Lifeinchd
Reacting to an observation why lessons were always learnt the hard way, and why systems were put in place in the first place, he said systems were in place but “were not adequate”. When pressed further, he retorted that such incidents should not happen, but they do happen, even in the most secure places. He went on to give several examples of fire incidents happening elsewhere despite the best of measures.
He informed that a team of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) was already inspecting the site to pinpoint details like the source and cause of the fire and the time it started. The structural damage to the building, if any, will also be studied, he said, adding that the services of professionals, if required, will be enlisted to plug the loopholes in the security systems, and the financial crunch of the university will not be allowed to come in the way of such an exercise.
Not Alls Well with PU, Lifeinchd
The vice chancellor said the fire was first noticed around 3 a.m. by a security guard, who immediately informed his superiors. Prof Grover said he came to know of the fire around 3:30 a.m. and immediately rushed to the spot.
Giving a clarification, PU Registrar Col. Guljit Singh Chadha (retd.) said the fire hydrant system in the building was very much in place but the smoke-sensors failed to work perhaps because of a power failure. The power supply had been erratic all of Saturday, he said, adding that the staff, which was working during the day, was finally forced to leave around 5:30 p.m. when the power supply, which again went off around 4:30 p.m., was not restored till then.
Not Alls Well with PU, Lifeinchd
Claiming that hand-held fire extinguishers were in working order in the building, the Registrar affirmed that the staff was able to contain the fire in the back portion of the floor with the help of the fire hydrant system and hand held fire extinguishers till the fire tenders arrived. Eight fire tenders and a hydraulic ladder were rushed to the scene. It took the fire fighters nearly two hours to control the fire, he said.
The finance officer of the university clarified that the fire engulfed one of the halls housing the accounts department. The damage and destruction of documents, files and furniture was limited to the salary section, examination and payment section, grants & planning section and partly the budget section. The biggest challenge for us is to make these sections operational within the shortest possible time, he added.

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