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THE TREASURY BUILDINGS-ITS HISTORIC ORIGIN

          Calcutta, now renamed Kolkata, the first political capital of British India and the sixth Capital of the State of Bengal was considered by many as a poor man’s Paris till as late as 1960s. It inherited a large number of historically important and architecturally unique buildings- The Treasury Buildings being among those which occupy a special place of pride.

The imposing edifice which houses the offices of the Principal Accountant General (Audit), West Bengal and Accountant General (A&E), West Bengal has a hoary history. Popularly known as Treasury Buildings, this palatial building with its magnificent gothic arches and beautiful mansards at each end of the long cloisters running along quadrangles was erected between 1882 and 1884 during the Viceroyalty of Lord Ripon. It was originally meant to accommodate the offices of the Finance Department of the then colonial government of India. A marble plaque embedded on the wall of the building declares that the Marquis of Ripon, the Viceroy and Government General of India and the Hon’ble A.R. Thompson, the then Lieutenant Governor of Bengal were present at the foundation laying ceremony of this building. The Architect was Mr. E. J. Martin and the Executive Engineer was Mr. C.A. Mills who was in charge of the construction under the superintendence of Colonel S.T. Trevor, Chief Engineer and Secretary to Governor of Bengal, Public Works Department.

 

RESTORATION AND RENOVATION OF THE BUILDING

         The aim for undertaking restoration and renovation was to optimize the utilization of space available in this heritage building housing the office in such a way as not to compromise with the architectural beauty of the structure in any over-zealousness to modernize work culture by rapid mechanization within its inter-mural ambience. The internal atmosphere of a heritage structure dating back to mid 19th century is a balancing and complementary factor of its external symmetry and structural equilibrium. Therefore, any effort to restore, preserve or just maintain the office building must necessarily address the dual questions of functional utility cum modernization and preservation of cultural heritage.

The Restoration/Redevelopment work of the Treasury Buildings was undertaken by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and consultation provided by Partha Das & Associates, a Kolkata based architectural firm.

The restoration process has been divided into components.

·                    The first component deals with repair / strengthening/ restoration of items which can be taken up immediately without prior permission from statutory bodies.

·                    The second component deals with the more extensive works which may involve construction of additional storage space and structural strengthening, and therefore, may require prior permission from the local municipality.

·                    At present, there are two 250 KVA transformers serving the existing requirement. These transformers are inadequate for the present requirement of computerization and general upgradation. They have to be upgraded to serve the buildings.

           The Restoration

The existing heritage building has been extensively studies and photographed.

The building materials used in the building have been categorized in the following manner and their conditions noted separately.

1.     Brickwork

2.     Roofs and floors

3.     Wood work

4.     Stone work

5.     Cast Iron works

6.     Public Health       Engineering

7.     Electrical

8.     Floor finish

The 1st component of the restoration process has been further divided into two stages for convenience of implementation.

The first stage deals with the elements on the roof, façade and periphery of the heritage building, which can be taken up without relocation of the offices inside. Also, it can be started immediately without any permission from the statutory authorities.

The second part deals with the more extensive aspects of restoration which involves temporary shifting of offices and relocation of services such as toilets, taps, water coolers, basins, roof drainage pipes, electrical lines and electrical installations.

Presently the second stage Restoration and Renovation is going on.

 

Accountant General (A & E) ,  West Bengal,  Treasury Buildings,  2,  Govt.  Place (West),  1st floor,  Kolkata - 700 001, India

 

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