Chief minister Mamata Banerjee shows her displeasure at the long queues to get into lifts at the new state secretariat on Monday, the first working day after the Puja vacation. Telegraph pictures
Employees queue up for the three lifts in operation at Nabanna on Monday.
A Telegraph picture
Mamata Banerjee on Monday asked the PWD to explore the possibility of adding two lifts to the 15-storey state secretariat across the Hooghly after seeing hundreds of employees queuing up to reach their offices on various floors.
The majority of the 1,200-plus employees at Nabanna were returning to work after a 10-day festival break and the long wait for a lift didn’t make it any easier for them to get into the office mood.
The employees started trickling in around 9.45am and as the queues got longer, the wait to enter a lift stretched up to 35 minutes. One of the five lifts had been shut for renovation and a VIP lift developed a snag, adding to the snarl.
“When the chief minister entered Nabanna, she saw at least 200 people queuing up and was livid,” a senior official said.
Monday wasn’t the first time long queues were spotted at the new state secretariat. Employees had to wait over an hour to enter a lift on October 7, the first working day at Nabanna after the chief minister shifted to the new address.
Officials said the problem was a temporary one and they intended to solve it by increasing the speed of the two service lifts and allowing employees to use the VIP lifts.
The Telegraph had predicted — with help from scientists at ISI — that reducing the average waiting time would be easier said than done even if the authorities earmarked different lifts for different floors.
“Today, it was clear that the lift problem would remain Nabanna’s Achilles heel whenever attendance is normal,” a senior government official said.
According to him, the problem started around 10.15am as hundreds of employees filed in. “After 10.15am, the waiting time started getting longer as one of the lifts was closed for work,” said a PWD employee whose office is on the eighth floor.
The problem got worse after one of the two VIP lifts, which had been thrown open for employees under the chief minister’s instructions, developed a snag around 11.15am.
The VIP lift, normally meant for the 12th, 13th and 14th floors, developed a snag when finance minister Amit Mitra was inside it. “The lift had to be shut for maintenance after the finance minister was evacuated,” an official said.
When the chief minister’s convoy reached Nabanna at 11.40am, there were long queues in front of the three lifts in operation.
Mamata headed straight to the area where the lifts are located to enquire about the reason for the queues. Some officials accompanying her tried to give an explanation but it was clear that she was unhappy.
|Employees queue up for the three lifts in operation at Nabanna on Monday. A Telegraph picture
The chief minister told some employees that the building was meant to be a garment park and had some shortcomings, for which she blamed the erstwhile Left Front government.
“She said her government was trying to plug the loopholes but it could take some time. She requested us to co-operate,” said an employee in the queue.
Mamata went back to the main entrance of the building and called PWD minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar and department secretary Indevar Pandey. Chief secretary Sanjay Mitra also came down to join the discussion.
The chief minister asked minister Ghosh Dastidar how long it would be before the lift problem at Nabanna was solved. “She suggested adding two lifts, saying that work culture would suffer if the problem persisted,” an official said.
The PWD minister later went into a huddle with his officials and asked them to find a way to install two more lifts. “Engineers will examine whether more lifts can be installed in the building. New lifts would require making some changes in the building that don’t look possible at this point of time,” a PWD official said.