Fresh row erupts over Mantralaya facelift

Gazetted officers’ body alleges the govt has not followed norms during office renovation

Mumbai | Published:November 19, 2013 1:04 am

The ongoing makeover of Mantralaya,the state government’s headquarter in South Mumbai,has courted fresh controversy. An allegation that the government has not followed norms while allocating spaces on the renovated floors of the building has been raised by the Mantralaya Gazetted Officers Federation (MGOF).

Even Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s office has officially cited a concern in this regard,sources said. A senior official said the CMO summoned project architect Raja Aederi over the matter and has now sought an official discussion with the state public works department (PWD).

The CMO,which has been operating from the first floor since June last year,has been allocated 21,197 sq ft space on the renovated sixth floor. However,it is yet to shift to the renovated office.

The MGOF’s main grouse is norms laid down by an official notification dated November 7,1986,have not been complied with for allocation of spaces. The contention is that while IAS officers and heads of various departments have been assigned office spaces that are almost double in size than the entitlement as per the notification,office spaces earmarked for non-IAS officers of various categories do not even meet the norms.

“The HOD are eligible for 350 sq ft office space as per the notification. They have been allotted swanky 590 sq ft offices on the renovated floors. Whereas,a Desk Officer has been allocated 20 sq ft office spaces even though he is entitled to 80 sq ft space. Similarly,officers of the rank of Joint Secretary and Deputy Secretary have been assigned only 100 sq ft spaces,while a 57 sq ft office space has been earmarked for an Under Secretary level officer.

MGOF President RK Dhanawade said while the federation has no issue with additional spaces allocated for HODs,they were opposed to “downgrading of other officials.” The CMO has also sought a discussion with the PWD on a demand for allocation of independent cabins to senior gazetted officials. The new interiors have been designed to “promote open office culture” with cabins only allocated to HODs.

But,a senior state official,on condition of anonymity,said changes to this were now on,with the MGOF adopting an aggressive stance. Senior cabinet ministers too have endorsed the demand.

At an internal meeting held on Saturday,MGOF members also raised regarding the lack of sufficient entry and exit points on the renovated floors. The makeover work was undertaken after the upper floors of the Mantralaya building were gutted in a blaze on June 21,2012. “While fire prevention measures have been taken,we are concerned of the lack of sufficient exit points in case of other emergencies,” Dhanawade said.

The federation has also protested to a common main entrance for washroom of male and women employees. A senior official said a proposal to install a glass door along the main entrance was being considered to solve this problem. Dhanawade said the federation has asked officials not to move into new offices till suitable changes were incorporated.

The CMO,meanwhile,has demanded that open unclaimed spaces along the passage inside the space allocated to be used for workstations for its staff.

sandeep .ashar@expressindia.com

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