Despite every attempt, state government officials are unlikely to reoccupy the three floors of Mantralaya gutted by fire last year, anytime before the first anniversary of the tragedy on June 21. The government officials had been keen on shifting back to the renovated floors before the passage of a year.
The deadline had been set soon after renovation for a makeover started on the three floors. However, a deferral now seems inevitable. At present, work is only nearing completion on the fifth floor. The sixth floor, which will house spacious chambers for the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister along with conference rooms and a visitors’ hall, will not be ready before next month.
“We hope to occupy the fifth floor in the first week of July,” said PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who inspected the work along with senior officials of the department on Tuesday. The state has already spent Rs 113 crore on the makeover of the fourth, fifth and sixth floors that were reduced to ashes in the fire last year, in addition to renovations on the seventh floor, which housed offices of the home, public health, cooperation and planning departments.
The seventh floor will now host the cabinet meeting hall, which was earlier located on the sixth floor, in addition to some conference rooms, an executive dining hall and a terrace garden. It will also have a glass roof, to help with the central air-conditioning system for the entire structure. For the first time in the building’s history, a separate entrance and a dedicated elevator are being made for VVIPs, on the western side of the state headquarters. Provisions are also being made for ministers’ chambers on the west side of the building and chambers of secretaries on the east side.
The structure will boast of a state-of-the-art fire-fighting system with smoke detectors and sprinklers. A water tank with the capacity of nine lakh litres is being constructed eight metres under the existing garden in order to help fire-fighting. Pressursied staircases are being constructed to prevent smoke from spreading through floors. Toughened glass in the corridors on each floor will provide sunlight to the atrium.
An underground parking lot will be constructed for 542 vehicles during phase II work of the makeover. Department offices currently located on the ground floor have been asked to vacate the premises, so that the second phase of work can begin. The state government is in the process of acquiring five floors in the Air India building to shift these offices.