The Maharashtra Police Headquarters is set to undergo an extensive renovation and restoration after decades of internal modifications brought it into a state of disrepair.
The state Home department has appointed heritage conservation architect Abha Lambah to carry out the work. Lambah’s firm had carried out a preliminary audit of the heritage structure last year before submitting a proposal of Rs 17 crore.
“It requires a lot of work and structural strengthening. The building suffers from structural damage and roof leakages,” said Lambah.
A senior state police officer, who is involved in the project, said the building was in terrible shape. “In 1993, the building had received an award from the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee. Since then, a lot of offices, washrooms and canteen have been built. The building was not designed to bear the additional load,” added the officer.
The building houses the senior-most officers of the state police, including the office of Director General of Police Subodh Kumar Jaiswal on the first floor.
The building was designed by Gothic architect Frederick William Stevens in 1876 with the intention of providing boarding and lodging to sailors. It was constructed over four years with the aid of the sizeable donation from the then Maharaja of Baroda, and opened in 1870 to commemorate the Duke of Edinburgh, Alfred’s visit to Bombay. It was duly christened the Royal Alfred Sailors Home.
In 1928, it was repurposed to house to the Bombay Legislative Council. Decades later, the Grade-I heritage structure was acquired by the state government and on the request of then DGP K P Medhekar, it was turned into the state police headquarters.
“For the first 10 years after the acquisition, there was regular upkeep. But nothing much has been done since then to maintain it. When we did an audit late last year with the Public Works Department and Abha Lambah, we found that the building requires urgent care and repair,” said the officer.
Lambah said she has been briefed to utilise the space better. “We will be rethinking the spatial utilisation in the structure and removing certain additions made earlier,” she said.
The revamped structure will also house a martyrs’ gallery on the ground floor to honour every policeman and woman killed in the line of duty since 1964.