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Two years after fire, Mantralaya finally putting damage behind

Two years after a fire ravaged Mantralaya, the state secretariat building in south Mumbai, several of the offices which had shifted elsewhere have now returned. The renovation bill is estimated to be around Rs 230 crore, against Rs 138 crore as approved initially.

The blaze which started on the afternoon of June 21, 2012 with a short circuit on the fourth floor spread to fifth, sixth and seventh floor, claiming five lives. Around 5,000 employees and visitors were evacuated from the building. Apart from the furniture and fittings, hundreds of files were gutted in the fire.

However, some 2.27 lakh files had already been digitised, which minimised the impact of damage. Several departments were temporarily shifted elsewhere. Ministers whose offices were gutted worked from their official residences.

Renovation began in November 2012. There was a delay of three months as the lowest bid of Rs 168 crore by Unity Infrastructure was much higher than the state's estimation. The firm revised the estimate down to Rs 138 crore and bagged the contract. However, the cost escalated after the work began and the final bill would come to around Rs 230 crore, a senior official said today.

Two years on, most of the renovation work on the 4th, 5th and 6th floors is complete. Among other things, the refurbished building will have an advanced fire-fighting system.

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