The Rs 56 crore detailed project report of the central public works department (CPWD) on restoring the Gothic style Gorton Castle building that was gutted in a major fire in January 2014 has still to receive approval of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India. Last January a meeting was held at the CAG head office in New Delhi during which the CPWD had apprised the auditor about the detailed plan to restore the building.
"The restoration plan was drawn up by CPWD and work will commence after we get the approval of our central office and other agencies involved as it is a heritage structure," principal accountant general Ram Mohan Johri told this reporter.
The plan is to restore building as it was earlier besides equipping it with some modern facilities to prevent the occurrence of disasters including fires. "The new structure will have fire and other disaster prevention facilities and will be restored to its earlier design," CPWD superintending engineer PK Aggarwal said.
Earlier in November, CPWD had submitted the detailed project report to the CAG head office and, after some queries were raised by them, CPWD functionaries met senior officials at the CAG's office and apprised them about the restoration plan in detail. The central public works department, which is responsible for maintenance of buildings housing central government offices, had written in February to the office of the superintending archeologist for Himachal circle and the state language & arts department for providing the detailed plan of the building designed by the famous British architect Swanton Jacob. Later a banker, James Walker, purchased the Gorton Castle site for `80,000 in the 19th century.
CPWD officials said maps and design of the heritage building were provided by different agencies including the Central Building Research Institute at Roorkee. Meanwhile, around 70% of drawings and maps of the building have been found at the CPWD's architectural wing on which its engineers worked out and prepared fresh designs.
Gorton Castle had around 160 rooms of which around 70 were devastated in fire on January 28, 2014. The British-era heritage building, which was famous for its neo-Gothic architecture, was built in 1903 that housed the office of the Accountant General. Gorton Castle was named after an Indian Civil Services officer, Gorton, who owned the site in 1840. On January 28 last year, a major fire engulfed the building and devastated two floors.