Mantralaya Fire, June ’12


A wild fire engulfed Mumbai’s very own Mantralaya on 21st June 2012 from 2:45 pm, after employees in the building probably must’ve just finished lunch. Some say it was a ‘saazish’ to destroy all the ‘Adarsh scam’ files and some say it was a short circuit that struck the 4th floor and then went upto the 7th floor.

I’ve never witnessed  such a huge fire and since I stay close by, I left my place and reached there by 4 30 pm and decided to do a photo story. The Mantralaya, for those who don’t know houses offices of the chief minister, key ministers and top officials. So this was a very important event and I went to capture it. Roads were blocked and there was a huge traffic jam starting from Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade. When I had reached at 4 30 pm, one side of the fire was almost under control whereas the other side was still growing. I could hear so many blasts from where I was standing- computers, acs, etc.  bursting, window glasses breaking and falling down and what not. Tons of fire engines, ambulances and police personnel, NGOs and NSS students from KC college were there.  I didn’t see the point in so many fire engines being there though because barely 4 to 5 of them had hose pipes that could reach so far and extinguish the fire. The others were just standing there and occupying space, going back and forth and making the cops shift us more and more behind. Luckily I had carried my DSLR which is why noone stopped me and I could continue shooting as a part of the press.

It was crazy ‘cause when the front side’s fire was almost doused, the right side was up in flames. Now, there’s a petrol pump just next door and I was only hoping that the fire wouldn’t spread and touch the petrol pump. Luckily it didn’t. Mad fire went on for more than 5 hours! All in all, it was something that shouldn’t have happened.

After standing for more than 3 hours, my feet were aching and I thought its best to go back home with the photos I got.

While going home, I stopped by next to Bandstand garden, had sugarcane juice, Maaza, bought Perk and Fatatat and went home. So yeah, quite an adventure it was! (Note: This line has been purposely added to highlight how lightly the incident was taken by the fire department of Mumbai and the government of India that it felt like an adventure being there and witnessing it. No offense.)


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2 Responses to “Mantralaya Fire, June ’12”

  • Varun Says:

    Rooch.. Nice article.. Gives a very first hand and people’e perspective to the incident.

    Didnt like the last para though. Very trivial and insensitive to a serious incident. I get that what you wanted it to be real. But a couple of people died and some really sensitive papers were burnt. Speculation is still rife of this being a planned job. To end it with what you bought or by calling it an ‘adventure’ – that really belittled a grave incident.

    My views only.

    Loved the photos though.


  • Roochster Says:

    I get what you’re saying about the last para and I agree that it might seem as if I’m belittling the incident, but my idea was to make it sound just that way (used sarcasm). Keeping in mind people’s sentiments, I’ve made a few changes to make it clear that my intention was only to bring to light what the scene was like out there.
    Even though it was a very serious incident, being there witnessing it and seeing the unpreparedness of the fire department was like a joke! Standing with the press and the cops watching fire engines just come and go, unanimously we agreed that we as a nation aren’t well equipped with what we need for disasters like this. Thanks for bringing this to my notice. I really didn’t intend to make it sound that way.

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