The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) has given its final approval for the Mantralaya revamp plan. Even though the work for refurbishing the secretariat building at Nariman Point started over six months ago, the committee had put at least two conditions for the government to fulfill before it could give a final go-ahead for the project.
V Rangnathan, chairman of the committee, has confirmed that they have given a nod to the government for refurbishment of the secretariat building at Nariman Point.
The MHCC had insisted on retro-fitting and seismic-proofing in the building. Earlier, the committee was not happy with the government’s work. “Mantralaya is a public building and it houses the offices of the chief minister, ministers and secretaries. Therefore, public safety is of utmost importance. We were insisting on retro-fitting and seismic-proofing, so that during calamity it will not be vulnerable,” said another member.
A member of the heritage committee said: “We are satisfied with the government-appointed structural engineer’s reply. They have ensured that they will strengthen the structure by matching the ISO standard.”
Structural engineer HM Raje has assured the heritage committee that all precautions will be taken to maintain the building’s stability. “We will strengthen the foundation of Mantralaya without any alteration. It will be done step by step over a period of time,” he said.
The government is spending over Rs300 crore for the revamp of Mantralaya. “If so much is being spent, then safety is vital,” an official requesting anonymity.
Besides earthquake resistance, the architect has been taking care of other necessary precautions such as fibre-wrapping to strengthen the building’s columns. However, some senior government officials have raised questions over the quality of construction. They said cracks have started developing.
“A wide crack has developed on the wall of the chief secretary’s office on the sixth floor. This shows that either the construction quality is very poor or it has been done in a hurry. The government is spending almost Rs15,000 per sq ft for the construction work against a normal of Rs1,500 per sq ft. There should be proper audit and checks and balance over the spending,” said an officer requesting anonymity.