Mumbai: Governor's home, Jal Bhushan, to be pulled down

Updated: Sep 21, 2019, 07:23 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

A new multi-crore structure will rise in the same spot once the weakened bungalow is demolished

The Jal  Bhushan bungalow that is undergoing renovation
The Jal Bhushan bungalow that is undergoing renovation

Jal Bhushan, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's official residence-cum-office, will soon be pulled down. The bungalow, the origins of which go back 200 years, was declared unsafe towards the end of previous governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao's term. The state PWD has assigned the work to Chetan Rikar, of Structwel Designers and Consultants, who confirmed the development.

Raj Bhavan officials claim American writer Mark Twain visited the then British Governor Lord Sandhurst in 1896 and the two lunched at Jal Bhushan. It has been the official 'Government House' since 1885, having evolved from 'a pretty cottage' that was built around 1820. It has housed Indian governors since Independence and Maharashtra governors since 1960. It has undergone several changes and the current structure may be 40 to 50 years old. It also has a conference room, a meeting room, library and offices of the ADC, private secretary and PRO to the governor.

The premises in Raj Bhavan the governor has currently moved into

"An inspection found the structure to be unsafe and that it will not even be able to withstand an earthquake of modest magnitude," said Raj Bhavan spokesperson Unmesh Kashikar. "The recently discovered bunker, which is yet to be opened for the public, runs below Jal Bhushan's lawns. Sufficient care has been taken to strengthen the bunker structurally. A new Jal Bhushan will come up at the same site and will retain many of the distinctive features of the existing structure, and will also have a Toshakhana, where official souvenirs and gifts received by the governor are kept."

The bungalow's first floor, which houses the governor's residence, will be structurally reinforced with modern technology and boast of grandiose contemporary decor and an unhindered view of the ocean and horizon. The existing structure is spread over 6,000 sq feet on the ground and 5,000 sq feet on the first floor. The new Jal Bhusan is likely to get some extra space. President Ram Nath Kovind had unveiled the foundation stone for the new Jal Bhushan on August 18.

The premises in Raj Bhavan the governor has currently moved into

Koshyari has been staying in a Raj Bhawan guest house called Jal Chintan, which has four rooms and a kitchen, and is surrounded from by the sea on three sides. Jal Chintan is a heritage building and has served as the occasional residence of prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and others.

A team under conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah is already carrying out reconstruction work of the Darbar Hall (Jal Sabhagriha), which has a capacity of 250 people. The hall, which was designed by George Wittet and constructed in 1911, was brought down in December, as it was badly affected by moisture and salinity due to its proximity to the sea. The new 10,000 square feet Darbar hall will have a capacity of 800 people and sport balconies on the first floor, and new weather-proofing techniques. It will be ready in 18 months.

Also Read: Bhagat Singh Koshyari takes oath as New Maharashtra Governor in Marathi

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