The building had been renovated only a few months ago and the  accident raises questions about the quality of the work done by the contractor

Mumbai  : Serious questions have been raised over the security of employees working at the renovated Mantralaya building after a portion of the ceiling in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) collapsed this morning.

The incident occurred before the office opened on Monday morning. As official work had not yet started, no injuries took place. When CMO employees opened the office, they found that a part of the false ceiling had fallen to the floor. They immediately informed the public works department (PWD) office in Mantralaya, which takes care of the building’s maintenance.

After the incident, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked the PWD secretary to conduct an inquiry into the incident.

Surprisingly, the building had been renovated only a few months ago and the accident taking place raises questions about the quality of the work done by the contractor.

According to Mantralaya sources, the cost for renovating the new building was escalated two to three times before it was finally executed for about Rs 250 crore. In spite of this increased amount, the false ceiling gave away suddenly. Previously, Mantralaya was ravaged by a massive fire in June 2012, after which Unity Constructions was given a Rs 138-crore contract for its renovation.

Later, the contractor was even fined a total of Rs 6,10,000 (Rs 5000 per day for 402 days) for a delay in the completion of the project.

Out of a total of the Mantralaya building’s 5.5-lakh square feet area, 1.5 lakh square feet was damaged by the fire, which led to three people being killed and 15 others being injured.

Reacting to Monday’s incident, state revenue minister Eknath Khadse said that the previous Congress-NCP-led government should be held responsible. “The renovation work was conducted during the time of the previous government and, thus, they should be held responsible for the quality of work. Former CM Prithviraj Chavan or former PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal should be held responsible for the quality of the renovation work done,” Khadse said.

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