But the dilemma is while the facade cost it Rs 2 crore, airconditioning bill could be Rs 10 crore
Cosmetic changes can sometimes prove costly, and the planners at Western Railway (WR) are realising it the hard way.
WR which till recently was flaunting its soon-to-be complete swanky office building at Churchgate station with a glass façade, is now staring at an estimated bill of Rs 10 crore to get the sprawling building centrally air-conditioned, as per their employees’ demand.
Just the glass panelling will cost a staggering Rs 2 crore. Around 2,600 people work in the seven-storey building which was built in 1957.
The makeover that included covering the building exterior of around 16,145 sq ft with shatterproof glass, began in December last year amidst protests from staff.
The unions came down heavily on WR for spending crores on aesthetic changes while ignoring crumbling staff and public amenities including dirty and leaking toilets and lack of clean drinking water.
While General Manager Kul Bhushan has promised the employees that leaking toilets and peeling plaster would be taken care of at the earliest, the issue of centrally air-conditioning the building will have to be forwarded to the Railway Board.
“Centrally air-conditioning a building is an elaborate process. Apart from the obvious things like false ceilings and AC ducts, it will be necessary to bring the workstations closer or give them a modular look to make the air-conditioning effective,” said a senior WR official.
At the same time, the official conceded that if this tricky part was taken care of, there would be a lot of free space. “We can accommodate more departments in the building.
Moreover if the offices look good and the temperature is optimised, productivity will definitely increase,” he said. At the moment, with the mercury hovering around the terrible thirties, the plan is to have forced ventilation for the building.
The unions seem satisfied with WR’s response. “The general manager has promised us he will resolve all the issues that could crop up once the glass panels are up.
A committee has been formed to look into what changes can be made in the existing structure,” said Divisional Secretary, Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS) Ajay Singh.