No affect on Writers' heritage structure in renovation: Official

Kolkata, Aug 24 : The West Bengal government Saturday asserted the proposed renovation and restoration of the historic Writers' Buildings would involve minimal interference on the heritage structure and all existing laws and advice of statutory bodies will be adhered to.

The government said the facade would not be changed and only the erosions that have crept into the heritage building, which houses the state secretariat, would be reversed.

"This (the renovation and restoration) will involve minimal kind of interference on the heritage structure. The heritage part is in a very good state of preservation. Only the erosions will be dealt with as per recommendation of experts. There will be no whole sale remodeling," Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra told media persons at the secretariat.

The Mamata Banerjee government has decided to shift the state secretariat out of the Writers' - from where the British once ruled India - to allow restoration of the heritage complex, which over time has become a "tinderbox" with a disaster waiting to happen.

The government has decided to relocate the secretariat temporarily to neighbouring Howrah by Oct 1 to make way for the restoration

"All heritage issues will be handled perfectly according to existing laws. We will consult all statutory bodies involved with regard to heritage," said Mitra, adding the renovation and restoration work will take between six months to one year.

The chief secretary said the archive, secretariat library, pension files and service records of emplopyees will nto be shifted to the temporary address, the HRBC building in Howrah.

He said experts from Jadavpur University and Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur, were fianlising a project report. The report will be available within a week, said another official.

The cost of the exercise and the extent of renovation and restoration work can be gauged after receiving the project report, Mitra said.

He made it clear that no foreign agency will be involved.

Mitra also welcomed suggestions from the public and the civil society and said a website would be opened soon.

Home Secretary Basudeb Bandopadhyay said Kolkata police will be entrusted the job of maintaining security in the HRBC building and its surroundings as it had the skills and set-up for such jobs.

The facelift of the Red Edifice, built around 1780, is part of Banerjee's "London dreams"- her grand idea of sprucing up the Eastern metropolis on the lines of the British capital.

Designed by Thomas Lyon, Writers' was constructed on behalf of Richard Barwell, a council member during Warren Hastings' tenure as governor general. The property remained in private hands till 1854 when the East India Company bought it officially.

--IANS (Posted on 24-08-2013)

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