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Many theories arise on Mantralaya fire, but Adarsh files safe


While fire brigades struggled to douse the flames at Maharashtra Mantralaya and make sure everyone was safe, conspiracy theories spread like wildfire.

The social media — both Facebook and Twitter — was flooded with sabotage theories. Tweets ranged from relating the fire to destruction of Adarsh files to the files of Urban Land Ceiling that have information on controversial allotments related to the urban development department (UDD), where the fire started.


Television channels went overboard saying important files related to Adarsh had been gutted since the UDD was reduced to ashes, until CBI officials countered it.


"We had seized all documents pertaining to Adarsh from the UDD, including their hard disks when we started our investigations regarding the housing scam," said a CBI officer.


"We have copies of all UDD's Adarsh files," said an official of the Adarsh inquiry commission.


Opposition BJP, meanwhile, demanded that the government should clarify and probe the fire.


"The Mantralaya fire may be an accident, a conspiracy or even a terror activity. So we demand that the government should immediately constitute a committee of national and international forensic experts to find out the cause," said Leader of Opposition and senior BJP functionary Vinod Tawde.


Ruling out sabotage, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said, "We have a back-up of nearly 27,000 documents. But, it is too early to assess which documents have been saved and which are lost. Our main focus was to save lives."


It would take time before the government finds out what documents and records were destroyed.


This could include important government decisions, proposals, legal agreements with private parties and pacts with neighbouring states, secret records of administrative staff and scores of study reports.


"The irony is that all our files, including all policy decisions, orders in individual cases have probably been destroyed except the Adarsh files. The other theory that some of the urban land ceiling (ULC) files pertaining to allotment controversy have gone missing is also absurd. All our ULC files are stored in the new administrative building and are intact," said a UDD official.


Conspiracy theorists have pointed to the timing of the fire, which broke out just before three former chief ministers — Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan — were to be questioned by the two-member judicial commission.


Deshmukh goes on stand next week.


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