WORK IS yet to start on the restoration of the interiors of Writers’ Building, almost a year after a plan was submitted to the public works department (PWD), with officials saying it would take two or three more months to initiate renovation.
According to the working plan, which The Indian Express has access to, the cabin of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would be 20 feet x 32 feet in dimension, with an attached toilet. A studio space for painting purposes has also been included in the plans, submitted in 2015, though it could not be confirmed if Mamata had asked for this addition. Next would be a conference hall of equal dimensions, and beside it would be a waiting room for her Cabinet ministers.
On the other side of her cabin would be a 11 feet x 13 feet pantry and a space of 10 feet x 13 feet to keep office equipment. There will also be a waiting room of 22 feet x 18.5 feet for visitors.
The work had been assigned to the department of architecture at Jadavpur University. “We have submitted the design to the PWD in July 2015. It is up to them now to take it forward. We have also shown a presentation to the CM, and she was quite pleased with it,” said Professor Madhumita Roy, head of JU’s architecture department, who had also spearheaded the restoration planning. Sources said that the design has been finalised using suggestions from the CM.
“The CM’s cabin would remain in the first floor, and it had been suggested to keep the front view of the lake and garden in front of the building uninterrupted. Behind her cabin would be suitable plants and a foyer to help in maintaining a micro-climate. There will be minimum movement in that area,” said a member of JU’s architecture department team, adding that there had been a suggestion by the CM not to use any dark colours in her cabin. The floor would be that of vitrified tiles, but this could change depending on the PWD’s decisions.
Sources said that the initial cost of the renovation, estimated at Rs 200 crore in 2013, had escalated over the years, and now depended on how and when the PWD intends to execute the job. A high-power committee comprising Malay Kumar De, home secretary; Atri Bhattacharya, principal secretary, Information and Cultural Affairs; HK Dwivedi, principal secretary, Finance and Indevar Pandey, PWD principal secretary has been formed to look into the plan’s execution.
A senior PWD official said work had been delayed since some departments are yet to vacate the building. “A building in the middle needs to be demolished. The proposed route of the East-West Metro also runs very close to the Writers’ building. It is also an issue we will have to factor in before initiating renovation work,” he said.