Bengal’s seat of administration moves for first time in its history

It was in 1911 that the capital of India was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata | Published:October 4, 2013 2:41 am

It was in 1911 that the capital of India was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.

And Calcutta,renamed Kolkata much later,remained the administrative seat of the state of West Bengal.

Till Thursday.

With Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee leaving Writers’ Building at 5 pm after finishing her day’s work,the state Secretariat — except for a few departments — shut down,at least temporarily.

From October 5,the Secretariat is going to function from Howrah — from the 14-storeyed HRBC building,christened ‘Nabanno’ by Banerjee herself. At 12.30 pm on Saturday,the chief minister will inaugurate the new office building,from where she will run the government till the Writers’ is renovated.

It will take at least another two years for the renovation work to be completed,PWD officials said.

On Wednesday,Banerjee came to the Writers’ around 2 pm after attending a programme at the Netaji Indoor Stadium. She held a series of meetings with officials of key departments and left in the evening.

Writers’ Buildings,the sprawling heritage structure adorns a Greco-Roman look with the giant pediment at the centre crowned with the statue of Minerva was constructed in 1706 for ‘writers’ or clerks of British East India Company which gave the building its name.

A total 11 departments,including the office of Finance Minister Amit Mitra and the excise excise department will move to the HRBC building temporarily. The seat of administration will for the first time in its history move to an alternative location.

The Home (Personnel),Agriculture,Land and Land Reforms,Information and Cultural Affairs department,Minority Affairs and Madrasa Education,Disaster Management and the state police directorate,which are under the CM,will be among those who move across the river. Though the minister did not reveal the budget for the renovation,reports said it could cost the state government over Rs 200 crore.

The Secretariat on Thursday looked like a fair ground. Heaps of torn files,papers and old typewriters were lying strewn all over. Meanwhile,food joint owners who for so many years had set up shop outside the Writers’,were an unhappy lot. “We have not been allowed to set up stalls at the new building. The government discriminated against us,” said a stall owner.

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