| Metropolitan Building on Chowringhee which will be given a facelift soon
Initially, the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) had set an October deadline for the restoration of the dilapidated Metropolitan Building on Chowringhee. Now it has been extended to November.
Amit Yadav, deputy chief engineer, LIC, said on Thursday that the LIC has divided the work on the building in two sections —internal and external, and three contractors have been shortlisted to do the work on the latter.
The three are Shapurji Palonji, who have little experience in restoration work, Mackintosh Burn, run by the state government, and Caltech India, which had done the pilot project of restoring a panel of the building, is repairing Queens Mansion on Park Street and has implemented several other restoration projects besides. The lowest bidder will bag the project. Yadav said the draft tender is ready, and, hopefully, the tender will be opened on November 15. “We are making all efforts to start work in November,” he added. The project cost is about Rs 80 lakh.
For the internal work, of the 10 contractors, confidential reports have been received on five, said Yadav. Next week, an order will be placed for approval of the contract to the “competent authority”.
Work is expected to begin on the Rs 4.5-crore project in the second week of December.
Yadav made it clear that though funds are no problem, maintenance of the building should be a continuous process and that is not possible “until users accept realities of the market” — meaning that they should be ready to pay higher rents in keeping with the location of this heritage structure.
Esplanade Mansion, the other LIC building in whose upkeep the Governor is interested, needs to be whitewashed and the “competent authority” has approved it. The work has been awarded to a contractor. But the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), which has declared it a heritage building, is proving a hindrance. Unless the CMC allows it to go ahead, LIC cannot start repainting it.
But the CMC has not done that yet, in spite of LIC writing twice to it. Copies of this correspondence have been forwarded to the Governor. Yadav says he has chosen a light shade of whitewash in view of the visibility of the building.
As to Queens Mansion, though the initial plan was to complete the repair work by March 2003, the whole of next year will be required for it to be over. The CMC is very strict about heritage rules and 15 per cent of the repair work is complete.
Work has begun on the façade facing its large courtyard. A composite plaster of lime and cement is being used. So more time than usual is being taken to complete the work.