Roofs leak, ceilings crash, seepage in walls so much that plaster hangs like a balloon, ready to burst
Bandipora: The mini-secretariat here in Bandipora appears as a grand structure situated amid lush green lawns, but from inside is pathetic and dangerous. The building, just four years old, is crumbling so much that it is said to be on the verge of collapse.
Constructed with a cost of Rs 22 crore by the Roads & Buildings department, the building has become a threat to the lives of the employees working here and the people visiting for official work.
The three separate structures in the mini-secretariat, which also holds the Deputy Commissioner’s office, are all in ramshackle condition. The ceilings of the office, the corridor, and the washrooms, keep crashing down on the floor every now and then. The bathrooms are defunct as the leakage from the roof is unstoppable. The seepage of moisture has further deteriorated the walls and ceilings, exposing the substandard material used in the construction and the callous attitude that allowed it.
The latest mishap happened on Wednesday, when a huge portion of the ceiling broke and came crashing down on the desk of the Chief Medical Officer. The officer and her associate had a lucky escape, but they don’t wish to ride their luck too long; such incidents have been happening all too frequently.
“It is not for the first time that a ceiling has come crashing down. In the past two years, if we count, it was about the 20th such incident. From the very beginning such incidents have been happening continuously. In total, 40 to 50 such incidents must have happened,” said the furious Chief Medical Officer Bandipora, Dr Bilques.
The claims of the officer can be corroborated with the fact that most of the ceilings in the various offices are still bare, without any plaster, and the Plaster of Paris that has been used on some ceilings has swelled up to the extent that “it may come down anytime, which has often been the case,” the employees shared.
“It has been only four years since the structure was handed over by the Roads & Buildings department. Ever since, incidents of ceiling breakages have never stopped. Every now and then, ceilings of corridors, offices, storerooms, and veranda come down,” Dr Bilques added.
“Only a year ago our storeroom’s ceiling crashed. Later, after six months, the walls and the ceilings of our establishment section for NHM crumbled down. After that, the ceiling of the corridor and the veranda came tearing down. Within some time the ceiling of the Legal Metrology office crashed down. Every one or two months, an incident like this happens,” Dr Bilques said.
The washrooms leak so much that they have been kept barred with wooden logs. The mosque on the ground floor had to be permanently shut down due to the unstoppable leakage from the roof. The lifts in the buildings are also defunct, or rather, they were never made functional. The absence of lifts makes it very difficult for the old, sick, and persons with disabilities to climb the steep stairs.
“In every department, the washrooms are leaking. We had a mosque in the ground floor but the massive leakage from the washroom rendered it useless as the floor was constantly wet. Despite repairing it several times the problem persisted. The employees then donated their money and constructed a temporary structure for a mosque outside,” Dr Bilques said.
Alleging that the R&B used substandard martial in constructing the structure, she said, “It feels like this building will collapse anytime as all the material used in the construction is substandard. Whether it was the R&B or the contractors who worked on it, they have used the cheapest material and, God forbid, working in this building is a risk to one’s life. Nobody knows how many may die if this building collapses, the chances of which are very high.”
The officer said that the ceiling material which came down “was all mud” and there was nothing like concrete in it. “Anybody can come and check for themselves,” she said.
“The R&B comes and repairs the damages half-heartedly, by applying wall-putty. There is no seriousness shown by them towards this grave issue,” the doctor added.