BEST's rush to save soggy Electric House

Not just dwindling commuters, BEST is also troubled by the monsoon; its HQ needs a makeover that will cost lakhs

The city's iconic red buses parade out of an imposing yet elegant headquarter of The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) in Colaba every day. The Grade 1 heritage structure is now set to get a makeover that will cost Rs 37.68 lakh. Known as BEST Bhavan or Electric House, the building was built in 1873, and is in need of urgent repairs before the monsoon lashes the city, say BEST officials. At a time when the undertaking is under severe financial strain, it will have to set aside a hefty kitty for repairs and maintenance.

The 143-year-old Electric House in Colaba is a heritage structure that has borne the brunt of several monsoons. Pic/Bipin Kokate
The 143-year-old Electric House in Colaba is a heritage structure that has borne the brunt of several monsoons. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Sources said no major repairs have been carried out in the building in the last few years. In July 2014, a contract for waterproofing the terrace expired. Last year, the roof was leaking at several spots throughout the rains. While the façade is made of steel frames, cement concrete and stone, the interiors, which include some classy teakwood battens, went soggy and eventually decayed due to the seepage. As a result, the offices inside the five-storeyed building look poorly maintained.

“There is a need to replace the deteriorated wooden sections of the interiors and the damaged Mangalore tiles,” said Jagdish Patil, General Manager, BEST Undertaking. The BEST will provide water-proofing treatment, aluminum sheets above the roof, laying of bituminous membrane on the terrace floor, and replace damaged and deteriorated teakwood battens, Mangalore tiles and water passages. Work is expected to begin this month.

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