Says no global tender inviting Expression of Interest floated

Raising questions on the renovation and restoration of the Writers' Building, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Surjya Kanta Mishra said the demolition of serviceable structure in the building would result in a loss of Rs 3,000 crore to the State Exchequer.

Dr. Mishra, who had raised the issue while participating in the debate in the Assembly on the Home Budget earlier this month, demanded that a white paper be issued on the issue.

“Though the departments of Architecture of both BESU Howrah and Jadavpur University are said to have prepared a concept plan, no global tender inviting Expression of Interest was floated for engagement of consultant, which is quite unusual,” he said in a letter addressed to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Citing reasons that the Writers’ Building had turned out to be a “tinderbox”, the Chief Minister shifted the Secretariat from Writers’ Building to the HRBC building in the neighbouring Howrah district on October 5, 2013. “The associated collateral damage would cost several hundred crores; at the same time it is yet to be ascertained what the total project cost would be,” Dr Mishra said in the June 18 letter.

He sought to know if inputs from experts, civil society members and heritage enthusiasts had been taken into consideration for the restoration work.

Dr. Mishra, also a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said consultants appointed by the State government had suggested demolition of all buildings now standing in between the “heritage blocks”.

“Many extravagant expenditure was carried out by the Public Works Department by way of demolition and reconstruction, wasting a huge sum of State exchequer when the renovation of Writers’ Building was about to begin,” the CPI(M) leader said.

Writers’ Building was in private hands till the East India Company bought it in 1854. The first phase of construction was made in 1777-1780 and the second phase was between 1879 -1906 followed by another round of construction 1945 -1947.

Reddish costumed emulsion used to bind the red bricks have given the heritage building its unique look and Writers’ Building with its gothic and regal look is undoubtedly is the most important piece of architecture in the city.

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