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Move to clear Writers’ clutter

Six departments have been asked to shift out of the packed Writers’ Buildings by June 30.

The state public works department, responsible for the maintenance of government facilities, issued the order to nine departments on Friday. Six of the departments are in Writers’ (see chart). The move has been scheduled in phases.

“There is acute shortage of space at Writers’. The building is congested and there is no space for any newcomer,” said a senior PWD official.

Writers’ being the seat of power and where the chief minister’s office is located, all ministers eye an office there. Departmental secretaries, and usually joint secretaries, have to be allotted rooms in the same building as the corresponding minister for better co-ordination.

“It’s unlikely that the ministers will obey the order. Everybody wants to be in close proximity of the chief minister,” said a bureaucrat. This is the third time the Mamata Banerjee government has raised the proposal.

The Left had mooted the idea but it was not acted upon.

Rooms at Writers’ have had to be partitioned to accommodate two or three secretaries and even ministers of state.

“It is so congested that basic fire safety is hampered. Wires get tangled because of lack of space. The decision was taken with the chief minister’s approval,” said the official.

The public works (roads) department, which has an office on Camac Street, the directorate of mines and minerals, now on Council House Street, and the office of the inspector-general of railways on Hungerford Street have also been asked to shift out of their present locations by March 31.