Accident

Five days after a major fire gutted the Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai, the Joint Commissioner of the temple has ordered 115 shops near its premises to vacate by 11 am on Thursday. 

The Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai was engulfed in flames on Friday night and it is suspected that a short circuit in one of the shops’ electrical fittings was behind the inferno. 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. They say 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 intricately built 14th century columns burnt to embers.

The eastern wing of the temple apparently consisted of 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 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.

According to a report in TNIE, the Hindu Charitable Endowments Board had instructed the temple to not sell any electronic goods or batteries.

Natarajan has ordered the licensed 115 shops on the premises to be vacated.