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NMNH Fire Incident: Were Fire Safety Measures Ineffective?
A fire broke out in the top floors of the National Museum in Natural History (NMNH) located next to the FICCI auditorium at Mandi House on Tuesday early morning. Two fire officials were seriously injured while trying to contain the blaze which broke out around 1.45 AM, and were rushed to hospital where they are in a critical state, an official said. The Natural history museum was started by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in mid 1970s along the lines of the one in the US. It was inaugurated on June 5, 1978, to coincide with World Environment Day. Despite the grand vision for it, the museum is not a popular location in Delhi as the ministry had insufficient funds to improve the facility. Such was the state of the museum that the government decided to renovate the museum using a one-time grant. The cause of fire is still unknown though the fire spread because of museum specimens and the wood work holding them. The money was sanctioned by the UPA government.he cause of fire is still unknown though the fire spread because of museum specimens and the wood work holding them. But the Fire Services alleged that the fire safety measures were ineffective and not functional in the FICCI building, a part of which was rented out to the Ministry of Environment and Forests which established the Museum in 1972. However, the FICCI members denied that there was a lapse on their part. “All fire safety measures were in place. This building is approved and cleared by the Government of India. We host functions for the government and big dignitaries frequently in these premises. There are at least 15 security guards at the premises every night, and around 35 during the day. The guards noticed the fire and called in the authorities. In a fire this big, nothing would work anyway. This fire is a serious case of an accident,” said Rajiv Tyagi, Media Head (FICCI).
The museum was a draw for school students but over the years it has fallen to a modest number. It took fire services over four hours to douse the blaze with 35 fire engines pressed into service. Children part of eco clubs were among the frequent visitors. There were replicas of dinosaurs and other animals such as the cheetah and snakes. Most of these were old but had audio aids explaining their history and science. Displays in the museum included sections on conservation, biomes, solar system, endangered animals, fossils, evolution and origin of life and man’s impact on nature. It also had a collection of herpetological specimens and butterflies, according to its website. As a part of its collection, the museum housed a library which had films on wildlife, conservation, environment, ecology, etc.