Mantralaya reopens, no visitors allowed | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Mantralaya reopens, no visitors allowed

mumbai Updated: Jun 25, 2012 00:53 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Hindustan Times
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The state government will resume work in Mantralaya on Monday, but reopening the state secretariat building three days after a massive fire broke out will be more symbolic than functional.

With nearly 5 lakh files estimated to have been burnt down along with furniture, and a lack of clarity over where the ministers' staff will be located, not much will happen. No visitors will be allowed in Mantralaya on Monday, though applications will be accepted at the gate.

The entire six storeys of the annexe building and parts of three floors of the main building will be open.

The main work for staffers will be to assess damage of files and start reconstructing them.

The decision to open Mantralaya was taken after two reports - a public works department report and another from a two-member team of the National Disaster Management Authority - said the building is "structurally stable".

Ravi Sinha, professor for civil engineering, IIT Bombay, who was part of the NDMA team, said that the structure seems safe visually. "There is no major damage to the structure and there should be no problem occupying it after renovation. We have suggested that all functional areas start being used," Sinha said.

A senior official said the PWD report, based on visual survey, said the structure is sound and that the fire-affected sections have not damaged the building from the point of view of safety.

Its recommendations include removal of damaged portions on the sixth and seventh floors. It also calls for renovation of the fourth and fifth floors. The fire is said to have originated from the server room on the fourth floor.

"Work in the lower three floors of the main building and the whole annexe wing will start from Monday," said PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal, whose department will be in charge of the restoration. "The renovation of the upper floors will be completed in the next three months."

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is expected to be operating from health minister Suresh Shetty's cabin on the first floor, while deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is expected to move into the cabin of irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare on the third floor.

However, a senior official pointed out: "The entire CM office can't be accommodated in Shetty's cabin. Also, there is considerable water-logging on the lower floors and we are still shifting and salvaging documents. We will be open on Monday, but work may not resume."

Education minister Rajendra Darda and minister of state for housing Sachin Ahir, whose cabins have been gutted, will work from Vidhan Bhavan, the state legislature building.

Higher education minister Rajesh Tope will operate from Mantralaya's annexe building.