| Writers’ Buildings: Space jam
Writers’ Buildings is bursting at the seams.
After decades of accommodating most government departments and sharing some of its burden with the odd office in the city or some establishments in Salt Lake, the government has now signalled the shift of more and more departments to elsewhere in the city. The public works department (PWD), acting on a directive from chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, has just issued circulars notifying the shift of the offices of five departments to two buildings in the city, minister Amar Chaudhuri told Metro on Friday.
“New departments are being created and manpower is also on the rise, besides the accumulation of office furniture and files,” the minister said, explaining the “burgeoning Writers’ Buildings” syndrome. “We have, therefore, decided to shift offices of five departments for the time being,” he added.
The departments allotted extra space at Bhabani Bhavan and the building at 4 Camac Street, Chaudhuri said, were the agriculture department, the allied agricultural marketing department, the minority welfare and development department, the consumer affairs department and two wings of the public works department itself.
The shift signal, however, has evoked mixed reactions. One department, which could have avoided the PWD “gift” at the moment was the consumer affairs department, currently embroiled in a controversy over the decision to shift the two city courts from Bhabani Bhavan to Lindsay Street and Brabourne Road.
Those opposing the shift from Bhabani Bhavan — including most of the major consumers and lawyers organisations, who are now preparing to send a representation to the Supreme Court — have now picked on the extra space allotted to the department on the seventh floor of the Bhavan. According to them, it shows how a section of the officials were bent on “reducing the active role” being played by the consumer courts at present.
The government had initially given the “dearth-of-space” logic to shift the courts from a building, which also houses the state commission office, and an area that already has two other important courts. “The argument does not hold now, with the department getting more than 6,000 sq ft of space at Bhabani Bhavan itself,” admitted a consumer affairs department official. The bifurcation of the courts would act as a “major deterrent” to consumers taking on the big companies, he admitted.
Most officials of other departments given the shift signal, too, are not very happy. Used to working at Writers’ Buildings, a place which houses colleagues from other departments (including the finance department), officials say shuttling between their new offices and Writers’ will take up a “large amount” of their time. The departments are now busy deciding on how to utilise the space, officials said, explaining that the real shift would take some more time.