Sridhar Sawant never imagined that one day he would move, from his tiny 100 sq.ft. room, into a flat near the sea. When Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Governor K. Sankaranarayanan on Tuesday handed over a symbolic key to two of the 68 Class IV employees at the Raj Bhavan, history of sorts was created.

The foundation for the 14-storey building was laid in 2004. It will house the Governor's staff.

Each of the single-bedroom flats in the building has an area of 360 sq.ft. and a view of the Marine Drive.

Mr. Sawant, 45, an electrical wireman, is a third-generation employee at the Raj Bhavan. Eight members of his family were cramped into the small room that formed the living quarters for employees at the Governor's residence. They shared a common toilet and bathroom. The State Public Works Department, which built the first wing of the building with 68 flats, will construct another wing by 2012. The construction of the first wing took one and a half years. Public Works Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said that these flats could cost Rs.4.5 crore at market rates since they were located near the sea. The Chief Minister said it was a dream come true for the Raj Bhavan employees, thanks to the magnanimous gesture by the former governor, Mohammed Fazal, who initiated the project in 2004.

Modern amenities

This will be the first high-rise building in the State for Class IV employees, and will have modern amenities. The foundation was laid by Fazal and then Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on July 17, 2004.

The high-rise has been built after demolishing the old dilapidated chawls where the employees were living.

Mr. Sankaranarayanan said he was glad the building was finally completed after seven years in the making.