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Bye-bye Sunday for shift babus

- WRITERS’ STAFF at WORK TO MOVE FURNITURE and FILES
Furniture from Writers’ Buildings is loaded onto a truck bound for the HRBC building on Sunday. (Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya)

Calcutta, Aug. 18: This move may not be quite as history-making as shifting the capital to Delhi over a hundred years ago was, but tell that to the babus of Writers’ Buildings. For some of them, it’s no longer TGIS (thank God it’s Sunday).

At least 11 officers of the PWD and animal resource and sports departments were on duty today as labourers carried furniture from Writers’ Buildings to load onto a truck parked outside gate No. 6. There was also a gaggle of junior employees, at least five from each department, on call.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered that Writers’ has to be relocated across the Hooghly to a tower block by October 1, leaving only six weekends to finish the job.

“It means weekends are going to be very busy from now on and by next week, over 100 employees would have to work on Saturdays and Sundays,” said a senior official from the chief minister’s office (CMO) who had his siesta today but was not sure about the weeks ahead.

A senior PWD official who was on duty was a little grumpy as he spoke while ticking off items that had already been put on the truck. “We started packing the furniture on Friday night. I have been asked to work overtime and make sure that things are not misplaced,” he said.

Sitting next to the driver, he accompanied a group of labourers to the 15-storey building of the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) at Mandirtala in Howrah from where the state secretariat will work until the 236-year-old Writers’ Buildings is renovated. Three mini-trucks carried wooden tables to the new premises.

In an April circular, Mamata had asked nine departments and directorates — including animal resource, transport, sports and prisons — to move out to Salt Lake and Strand Road. But the department bosses were dragging their feet.

After Mamata’s August 7 announcement about the relocation of the secretariat out of Writers’ by October 1, these nine departments were picked as the first that would have to shift.

Sunday was the turn of the animal resource development department, housed on the second floor of G block, and sports.

According to the plan, the animal resource and sports departments would be transferred out of Writers’ by August 23 to Salt Lake and the prisons department to a Dalhousie office by the first week of September.

An officer on duty said: “We are splitting the files into two sections — before and after 1990. A senior official from each department has been assigned as a liaison officer with two other officers working under him. Their responsibility will be to make sure none of the files is lost during the shifting.”

Eleven departments — home, finance, CMO, information and cultural affairs, PWD, agriculture, police directorate along with a part of the control room, minority affairs, disaster management, home, and personnel and administrative reforms — are going to shift to the HRBC building.

Although only two departments moved on Sunday, at least five departments would have to vacate their Writers’ corners every weekend if the October 1 deadline has to be met.

A senior PWD official said: “Since the announcement of the relocation, several senior officials, including the chief minister, have been coming to this (HRBC) building every day but there is no place to sit or work. We have been asked to make a temporary office on the ground floor so that people have a place to sit.”