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Monday blues for Nabanna workforce
Slow service lifts trigger long queues

Travelling from Rabindra Sadan to reach Nabanna across the Hooghly: 20 minutes, roughly

Waiting for an elevator to reach workstation on some of the higher floors: more than an hour for many

The first Monday at the state’s new seat of power was not as smooth as it should have been for the 1,500-plus employees queuing up in front of elevators to take them to their respective floors in the 15-storey building.

Of the five lifts, three are service elevators meant for carrying goods because the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) building was built to house a garment park until chief minister Mamata Banerjee decided to renovate Writers’ Buildings and temporarily shift her office to the Mandirtala address in Howrah.

“The HRBC authorities were given the responsibility to convert the service lifts into faster passenger lifts before the secretariat was shifted. It appears that the work has not been done properly,” an official said.

The long queues in front of the lifts that went up and down at a leisurely pace were proof that shifting of the secretariat was a rushed one, another official added.

Some blamed the HRBC authorities for overlooking this potential problem associated with a highrise office.

PWD engineers said the elevators for goods and passengers have different accelerators to control the speed.

Officials said the HRBC authorities did not get enough time to complete the change in the accelerator system because these lifts were being used to ferry goods — mainly construction material and furniture — till the day before Thursday’s inauguration of Nabanna, the name Mamata has given to the HRBC building.

“Overhauling the lifts require time and they need to be closed but that did not happen,” an official said.

The two passenger lifts were reserved for VIPs. “The VIP lifts are faster and take about two minutes to reach the top floor. The three other lifts take four minutes. Monday’s chaos has exposed that the shifting is a hurried decision,” an official said.

Government officials who were stuck in the queue said the administrative operations from Nabanna should have started after the Pujas to let the HRBC and the PWD more time to work on the building’s grey areas.

“The HRBC building has more goods lifts because it was not planned to house a secretariat,” an official said.

Another highrise government office, the New Secretariat close to Writers’, provided the perfect contrast to Nabanna and proved what proper planning could do.

The 13-storey New Secretariat building houses six departments and more than eight directorates. It has eight lifts to carry nearly 1,500 employees. Six of them are open for staff and each can carry 16 people at a time.

The lifts take just one minute 10 seconds to reach the 12th floor even after stopping at alternate floors.

“There are more lifts and all of them are fast. Waiting time for a lift is only five-six minutes during peak hours,” an employee of the power department said.

Liquor sale

A meeting over smuggling and sale of illicit liquor was held between Calcutta police, the excise department and officials from the adjoining districts. Sale of illicit liquor has been on the rise in pockets like Tiljala, Burtolla and Metiabruz, sources said.