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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Demolitions in Mantralaya compound for the free movement of fire tenders

Garages, a fair price shop, a Bank of Maharashtra branch, a few stalls, and some portions of the main garden to go

 Caught unawares by the blaze that gutted four floors of the Mantralaya building two months ago, the state government has ordered a makeover of the entire complex in order to ensure that the seat of the Maharashtra government is more accessible to fire-fighters. 

    Demolition has been ordered of several garages in the compound, a fair price shop, a Bank of Maharashtra branch, a few stalls, and some portions of the main garden, in order to facilitate the free movement of fire tenders. Chief Secretary Jayant Banthia, and several senior officials, took a round of the complex on Thursday, when the structures that needed to be razed were identified and later finalised. 
    The demolition work, said an official who was part of the team, will begin in the next couple of weeks. 
    On June 21, when the fire had broken out at Mantralaya, it had taken nearly half an hour for the turntable ladders to be put up because the gardens and the garages had offered a very small turning radius. This had 
emerged as one of the biggest problems for the rescue of nearly 100 people who were stuck in the building. The fire eventually claimed five lives. 
    "We have to be better prepared for such emergencies in the future. Freeing up space in the compound is an important part of that," an official said, adding that this issue had been one of the main points to have emerged during discussions about the Mantralaya renovation. 
    "Removing the garages on the western side of the main building, which also houses the Bank of Maharashtra branch, some gardens 
near the annexe building, and a few small stalls is imperative for the free movement of emergency vehicles," Ulhas Debadwar, the chief engineer of the Public Works Department, confirmed to Mumbai Mirror. 
    In addition to this, the Mumbai Fire Brigade has suggested that a cabinet for gas cylinders in Mantralaya's main canteen be shifted immediately because it is a major hazard. This cabinet, on the eastern side of the building, stores at 20 LPG cyliners at any given time. 
    While renovation work is yet to start, Chief Minister Prithviraj 
Chavan and his deputy Ajit Pawar will be shifting to the first floor of the Mantralaya building this week. Chavan will operate from the chamber of Health Minister Suresh Shetty, and Pawar will sit in the Rural Development secretary's office. 
    A senior PWD officer said that the refurbishment of Mantralaya, which costs approximately Rs 110 crore, has been approved by the government and pre-qualification bids have been invited. 
    The rebuilding work is expected to start at the end of September, and go on for at least four months.

On June 21, it took half an hour for firemen to put up turntable ladders. Below (L&R): The offices on the Mantralaya premises that will have to go when renovations begin


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