KOLKATA Writers' Building wears a deserted look, staff await order

KOLKATA: Heaps of abandoned files, worn-out almirahs and rejected furniture were strewn across empty rooms while worn-out almirahs, discarded cupboards and lockers shared space with dusty keyboards. In between, groups of employees still waiting for their shift order stuck out like islands amid empty spaces. The Writers’ Buildings wore a deserted look on Monday morning – the first working day after the shift to Nabanna at Mandirtal.With sections of 11 departments having moved to the new secretariat, the heritage building looked a pale shadow of its usual busy self. Even as most senior officials and secretaries moved to the new building, files are piling up.

The once cramped up finance department was almost unrecognizable. All that remained were a few vacant rooms with around 15 employees occupying half-a-dozen tables, as opposed to the few hundred who would rub shoulders earlierbefore the shift.

“We are waiting for the shift order. It’s difficult to keep working in this situation for we are yet to figure how to coordinate with our colleagues at Mandirtala. We are feeling abandoned and left-out,” said an employee. Staffers had to salvage a few chairs from an abandoned heap of furniture before they could start work. “Everything, as you can see is in disarray. It hardly seems that we are at the same, old Writers’,” said Nirupam Das, a finance employee.

At the neighbouring small savings directorate section, barely 12 employees huddled together discussing their impending transfer. Vast, open spaces encircled their tables.

“We are going to move to the Jessop building. But till that time, carrying on with our work has become a bit of a problem. For approvals and matters related to our salaries and provident fund, we must consult our colleagues at Nabanna. It’s is going to hold up work.

But any change is bound to be inconvenient at the initial stage. So, we must grin and bear it,” said an employee.

Several important sections of the PWD including the NH wing, city division, roads establishment, electrical, have been left behind at Writers’. Officials said that only the minister, the secretary, the drawing section and the engineering chief, apart from the PWD road’s account branch ha been shifted to Nabanna. The PWD electrical, NH wing, city division, PWD roads establishment and quality assurance are still operating from Writers’.

Of 700 PWD employees who worked at Writers’, about 250 have moved. But files have not been moving. Senior officials are expected to visit the old state secretariat to clear files. They haven’t been signing them for more than a week, employees said.

“It will obviously take some more time for things fall into place. Files are piling up and we are waiting for them to come and sign. They will probably be visiting during the second half of the day,” said Adhir Ray, a PWD employee.

The information and cultural affairs department (I&C), too, had a fragmented office with more than half of its 150 plus workforce having moved to Nabanna. Papers, documents and files that have been shifted were yet to be opened at the new building.

Employees of the I&C’s photo department were worried about the archive. None had any idea if it would be moved to the new secretariat.

“There are around 15,000 negatives at the archive. The collection has been building up since 1952.

We need proper arrangements to shift the collection, in case we have to,” said Pathik Seth, an employee.

The number of visitors, too, came down to a trickle at the Writers’ with which had 10,000 employees before the shift.

With key departments like finance, home, land and land reforms, PWD, agriculture and excise having moved out, securitymen had an easy time.

“I have never ever managed to enter Writers’ so easily. It was like walking into an ordinary building. And it hardly looks like the state secretariat any more,” said Partha Ray, who was visiting a friend who works at Writers’.

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