Days after a major fire gutted the Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai, the Joint Commissioner of the temple ordered 115 shops near the premises to draw their shutters. The licensed shops were told to vacate by 11 am on 8 February.
The Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai was engulfed in flames on the night of 2 February. It is suspected that the fire was sparked by a short circuit in one of the shops’ electrical fittings, Hindustan Times reported. Another theory is that the fire may have been sparked by a ritual carried out by one of the shops to ward off evil. According to the Times of India, fire safety officials said that this was a disaster waiting to happen.
Fire safety officials said that they had issued multiple warnings to temple authorities to take measures to remove the shops which posed an obvious fire hazard on the premises.
The officials had also said they gave suggestions about securing electrical lines and avoiding the sale of plastic toys.
The Veera Vasantharayar Mandapam on the eastern entrance of the temple reportedly suffered the most damage, with its intricately built 14 century columns burnt to embers.
The eastern wing of the temple apparently hosts several shops selling everything from puja articles to children’s toys. While there were no casualties, the fire also gutted 36 shops in the temple. Over 60 fire tenders were deployed to douse the flames.
The fire safety officials also alleged that many shops used low quality wiring and overloaded the maximum capacity on electrical junctions.
The Joint Commissioner of the temple, N Natarajan, has reportedly said that no warnings had been received in his three-year tenure at the temple.
(This was originally published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)
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