Hundreds of documents and service records of revenue officials were destroyed in a major fire that broke out at the Madurai District Collectorate during the wee hours of Friday.
Scores of employees, who were shocked over the incident, arrived at the Collectorate and examined the burnt records with the hope of salvaging some papers, which might be of some help to them.
“We are worried as all our service records have been damaged. It is difficult to retrieve them,” said some officials working in various sections at the collectorate.
The Fire and Rescue Service department, which was located inside the collectorate complex, received information at 5 am from Kannan, a Sabarimala devotee, who first saw the fire at the collectorate building.
An eight-member team of fire service, led by K Ponnuasamy, Deputy Director, Fire and Rescue Services, Southern Region and K Karuppaiah, Madurai Divisional Fire Officer, rushed to the spot and put out the fire after a hour-long battle.
We suspect the fire could have been caused due to an electrical short circuit,” said Karuppaiah.
As the building was too old and built 96 year ago, the entire electricity network was fixed in the open. “The wires were found damaged at many places, which might be one of the reasons for the fire accident,” said a senior fire officer on condition of anonymity.
Officials at the collectorate also complained that the network had not power tripper to suspend electricity supply in the event of an accident
The fire accident occurred in the main section of the administrative building, which was around 1200 feet in length, 42 feet in breadth and 40 feet in height. The fire has damaged service records of the employees in the section A, documents of village administrative offices in Section G, applications for revision of land pattas, documents on land encroachment and land transfer documents.
“Documents pertaining land grab, encroachment, files on details of land, which has been allocated for other departments, have been damaged in the fire,” said a senior revenue officer.
R Gnanagunalan, State Vice President of Tamil Nadu Revenue Officials Association, said that 79 service records of employees have been damaged in the fire accident.
“To retrieve the service records is a Herculean task. The district collector and the government should help employees to get duplicate copy of the service records which are essential to apply for pension,” he said.