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Old makeover plan dug up for new Mantralaya

Mantralaya is all set for a makeover, just the way architect Raja Aederi and PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal had envisioned it, five years ago. Yesterday, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan sat through a detailed presentation on the Mantralaya makeover, which was made by Aederi, a renowned architect, who was officially appointed for the project in 2007.


Old wine, new bottle: Only a few changes have been made to the original 2007 plans — for instance, the makeover will not include construction of new ministers’ villas, or separate buildings to accommodate judges and senior government officers. The plans had to be dug out for revaluation after the June 21 blaze. Pic/Shadab Khan

The fresh plan is basically old wine in a new, more expensive bottle. Only a few changes have been made to the original 2007 plans — for instance, the makeover will not include construction of new ministers’ villas, or separate buildings to accommodate judges and senior government officers.

The project was caught in a political tug-of-war between the Congress and NCP for years, and was ultimately scrapped in April 2010 by Bhujbal.
The old proposal included renovation of Mantralaya, the new administrative building and Vidhan Bhavan, as well as construction of villas for ministers, residential towers for judges and senior officers, an MLA Hostel, government rest house and a separate building for the offices of political parties. Eventually, the bidding process was challenged in the Bombay High Court. Ashok Chavan, the then CM, was also not keen on the proposed plan. Instead, he had asked MMRDA to draft a fresh plan and the project fell into a state of limbo.

Plan of action
The plans had to be dug out for revaluation after the June 21 blaze. After going through the presentation yesterday, Chavan was said to have been quite impressed with the plan. He suggested a fool-proof makeover, keeping in mind future requirements and the safety angle.

He is also believed to have asked officials to ensure a world-class fire fighting system and electrification of the building.

According to the plan, the building will have six capsule lifts and escalators, along with the existing 16 lifts. Each department will have composite offices, unlike in the present system, where chambers are arranged on both sides of each floor, separated by a corridor.

Instead, all the chambers of the same department will be on one side, while entrances and lifts will be provided from the central courtyard of the main building and open courtyard in the annex building.

The building will get a central air-conditioning system with the latest fire detection technology and fire fighting equipment such as powder sprinklers. A government official added that a new parking lot will also be developed to avoid vehicular congestion in the state headquarters.
Costly

As per the plan devised in 2008-09, the Mantralaya makeover project alone was estimated to cost Rs 325 crore. But, as per the current price index, the cost may be ratcheted up to over Rs 400 crore, say officials.

As of now, the government’s priority is for renovation of the fourth, fifth and sixth floors that were ravaged in the June 21 blaze. This project alone would cost Rs 50 crore for structural strengthening and reconstruction of toilets. The electrification, fire fighting system, computerisation, modular furniture, interior works in ministers’ chambers and secretaries will require additional cost, officials added. 

Did you know?
Built in 1955, Mantralaya is the administrative headquarters of the state government. It was earlier known as Sachivalaya (Sachiv - Secretary, Alaya - House, meaning Secretariat). Mantralaya is a seven-storeyed structure, housing most of the state government departments. The Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister sit on the sixth floor. The Chief Secretary, the topmost bureaucrat, sits on the fifth floor.

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