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Plot marked for CM’s office

Siliguri, April 10: Six acres have been identified on the southern fringes of Siliguri for the chief minister’s mini-secretariat, the construction of which is expected to start in two months. The project was Mamata Banerjee’s election promise to the people of the region.

A separate office and residential suite for the chief minister, offices and accommodations for members of her cabinet and secretaries, and a project office to accommodate engineers engaged in development schemes will be part of the secretariat. The campus will be complete with facilities like video-conferencing with a dedicated server room — all amenities necessary for the chief minister to run her office when she visits north Bengal.

Mamata told the people of north Bengal during her election campaigns and after she took over as the chief minister that she would decentralise the administration so that people did not have to go to Calcutta. “The chief minister’s secretariat would be built at Dabgram and land has been identified for it. It will house the chief minister’s office, my department and will be armed with infrastructure to make the campus a full-fledged secretariat,” north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb said today.

The minister said the secretariat would come up on six acres belonging to the district administration. “We have another 10 acres adjacent to it. We will make use of it, if we need. It is too early to comment on expenses but it would probably come around to Rs 30 crore,” Deb said. “We will even keep space to construct an Assembly.”

Earlier, the secretariat was planned next to Uttarayon Township in Matigara on the northern ends of Siliguri. But the chief minister rejected the plot when she came to know that two workers of Chandmoni Tea Estate died in a police firing in 2002 while protesting the decision to uproot tea bushes to convert the garden into a township. Mamata said she would not build her secretariat on “land soaked with workers’ blood” and asked Deb to scout for a new plot.

Sources in Deb’s department, which is overseeing the mini secretariat project, said tenders had already been issued. Expressions of interests have been sought from qualified architects and construction consultants. “Yesterday was the last date of submission of proposals. These will be short-listed and published tomorrow. Architects, who have the experience of designing buildings in similar geo-climatic conditions like ours, would be assigned the work,” a source said.

Sources said the plan was to construct a chief minister’s block, which would have the CM’s chamber, reception, waiting lounge for VIPs, chambers for personal assistants, secretaries, offices and a pantry. Three chambers would be kept for ministers, with offices for their personal assistants. The block will also have the video conferencing room, a hall that can accommodate 50 people and a media centre with equal seating capacity.

A separate block would be constructed for the north Bengal development department.

“There will be a separate project office for engineers and other technical staff. Provisions for offices for security staff and drivers would be there,” a source said.

A guest block would also be built. “There will be a lounge, a dining room and a kitchen on the ground floor for VIPs. On the first floor, there would be individual rooms for ministers, secretaries and other officials. The second floor would have a suite for the chief minister,” the source said.