Come April 14, the health department, almost a permanent fixture in Writers’ Buildings, will move into a new address in Salt Lake. With health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra taking the lead, his deputy, dozens of mandarins and nearly 10,000 health department employees will relocate themselves from Poila Baisakh (April 15) in two new buildings in Salt Lake’s Sector V.
After education and power, Mishra’s health is the largest department to decide in recent times to move out of Writers’ and into Salt Lake, where a number of departments have already stationed themselves.
The agricultural ministry, overseen by Forward Bloc’s Kamal Guha and Chhaya Ghosh (who’s in charge of the marketing side) has been asked to relocate itself in the new building on Camac Street, but is still lobbying hard, hoping to roll back the shift decision.
Mishra, his deputy Pratyush Mukherjee, secretary Asim Barman and hundreds of babus will move into the new buildings, seven and five-storeyed tall, off the Webel complex in Sector V. Under instruction from Mishra, health secretary Asim Barman held a high-level meeting with special secretary Shyamal Bose and other senior officials on Thursday and finalised the shift.
Raising protests against the shifting of a key department from Writers’ Buildings to Salt Lake, a section of health employees have refused to move to the new buildings, citing transportation and other problems. The minister, however, made it clear that each and every employee must proceed to the new premises of the health department.
“Our move to shift to a new address is aimed at bringing the entire health department under one umbrella. It will facilitate smoother and faster work. Besides, we shall be able to save the lakhs that we have been paying for rent every month to accommodate our branches,’’ minister Mishra told Metro on Friday.
He said many important projects had got delayed because the offices were scattered in the city. “If I want to hold an urgent meeting, it takes at least a few hours for the officers concerned to arrive at the state secretariat from their respective workplaces. If all the officers and employees are available under a single roof, work will proceed faster,’’ Mishra reasoned.
On the refusal of some employees to shift, the health minister admitted there were some problems in Salt Lake, mainly of transportation, but they would be looked into.
“The new office is at the far end of Salt Lake. Public transport is available up to Karunamoyee, but not beyond. And our new office is about another kilometre from Karunamoyee,” pointed out P.K. Kar, an employee.
According to health officials, apart from minister Mishra, his deputy Mukherjee and secretary Barman, all the secretaries, directors, controllers and officers and employees of the secretariat and directorate will move to the new premises. That apart, the departments that will function from the new venue include family planning, TB, malaria, information and communication, leprosy, plague and medical education. However, the office of the drug controller and controller of AIDS will retain their old site.
Except the secretariat and directorate, almost all the departments are functioning from rented houses in different and far-flung areas, like CIT Road, India Exchange Place, Subodh Mullick Square, AJC Bose Road, Darga Road and Park Circus.