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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Construction wraps up for buildings to house Defence Ministry staff

While all buildings are ready, labourers are working on setting interlocking tiles near the entrance of the complex at KG Marg.

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi |
Updated: September 9, 2021 7:43:49 am
Buildings at the Africa Avenue. (Express photo)

The new buildings for officers and staff of the Ministry of Defence at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and at Africa Avenue are almost complete and currently receiving final touches. Site engineers and workers have been on the job continuously in anticipation of the shift, scheduled to begin late September.

While all buildings are ready, labourers are working on setting interlocking tiles near the entrance of the complex at KG Marg. A few last-minute touches such as horticulture work inside the complexes are also going on, as is work on lighting and WiFi. Meanwhile, at Africa Avenue, workers continue to work on the parking area. Here, too, the towers are complete and labourers are working on railings in front of the building entrances. A fountain in the middle of the complex is almost complete and paver blocks are being set on the roads.

Ministry of Defence sources said that the seven buildings — three in KG Marg and four in Africa Avenue — will serve as the office complexes for around 5000 officers and staff of the Ministry. They are being shifted from hutments in the South Block, where Central Vista work will begin soon. The North and South Blocks will be restored and converted to museums.

The source said that the shifting will be done in phases and it is scheduled to start by the end of September and will continue till October. They will be shifting to the new buildings permanently. An official inauguration is expected in the coming days.

Both building complexes follow the same colour schemes and design. While the colour scheme resembles that of the Central Secretariat, the buildings wear a more modern look. The terracotta tile facade is supposed to reflect the aesthetic of Lutyens’ Delhi, while also providing insulation.

The work is being carried out by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and contract company Ahluwalia Contracts (India) Limited. Previously, the CPWD had said they were using pre-engineered building (PEB) technology to build three blocks of G+8 floors spanning over a 44,000 sqm built-up area in KG Marg and four blocks of G+7 floors in a 49,000 sqm built-up area in Africa Avenue.

The technology was chosen because it was quicker, cost-effective, and environment-friendly. As much as 80 % of the building comprises pre-engineered components like structural steel columns and beams, which were transported from other parts of the country. As dry methods of construction were used, less dust was generated while constructing the buildings.

The structure of the buildings comprised light gauge steel frames. They were covered with cement fibre boards on the outer side of the external walls, while cement fibre boards and gypsum boards were used for the interiors.

Efforts were also made to make the buildings energy-efficient, water-efficient, and environment-friendly. The terracotta facade reduces the dependence on air conditioning and heating. The finish is meant to be durable and maintenance-free for years. Due to its low water-absorption quality and high firing temperatures during manufacture, the terracotta facade has a low effect of aging, fading, and discolouration. It is also expected to reduce the noise from outside.

The foundations of the buildings were laid in March 2020 but full-fledged work began in November due to the lockdown. This year, work continued despite the lockdown and many workers stayed in the labour quarters at the construction site

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