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Auditorium on stilts in Nandan plan

Mamata Banerjee has grand plans for her predecessor’s favourite haunt, starting with the overhaul of the main Nandan auditorium. The revamp projects being considered include one for an auditorium suspended in air over the water body on the premises.

The chief minister met public works minister Subrata Bakshi and officials of his department on Wednesday afternoon and decided that the refurbishment would start right away with the construction of a new false ceiling for Nandan I.

The Mamata Banerjee-headed information and cultural affairs department, which looks after the functioning of Nandan, has cleared Rs 25 lakh for the first phase revamp.

Officials of the public works department had earlier inspected Nandan and said that it had not been maintained properly for the past 25 years.

Since Mamata’s tour of Nandan along with senior information and cultural affairs officials last week — the first since she became the chief minister — the complex has been abuzz with activity.

Early on Wednesday, senior public works department engineers inspected Nandan, which Satyajit Ray had inaugurated in 1985, and discussed their findings at length with information and cultural affairs officials before meeting Mamata in the afternoon.

“We have drawn up a plan to build a plush, 400-seater auditorium atop the water body inside Nandan. The structure would stand on steel pillars. The water body will be done up aesthetically and illuminated. The water body has become an eyesore now,” said a senior official in the public works department’s architecture wing.

“We have already presented the plan and are awaiting clearance.” he added.

“Whatever is required, will be done,” said minister Bakshi, refusing to elaborate.

The inspection had revealed that the chairs in the auditorium were in bad shape. The wooden panels on the walls are falling off in the absence of maintenance.

“The springs in the chairs are gone and they don’t slide any more. There has been no maintenance for two and a half decades. The overhaul would take four-five months, within which we can give the entire complex a facelift with the chief minister’s permission,” said a senior engineer of the public works department.

A part of Nandan false ceiling had crashed down in April, making the urgent need for repairs clear.

An insider said the work could not be started immediately since the model code of conduct for the Assembly elections had made floating of tenders impossible.

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