Despite the "deteriorating" condition of the iconic General Post Office (GPO) building here, a Grade-1 heritage structure, the proposal to repair it has not been cleared by the Postal Directorate for the last 16 months, reply to an RTI query has revealed.
The GPO, which is the city's central post office, also serves as the headquarters of the Maharashtra and Goa circle. It handles most of the city's inbound and outbound mail and parcels.
"The proposal to repair, restore and preserve the structure that enjoys Grade-1 tag of the heritage building, has been pending for approval from the Postal Directorate for the last 16 months," the letter written by the Director of Postal Services, Mumbai to the Chief Postmaster General (Buildings), says.
This letter was cited in the reply to the RTI query filed by activist Anil Galgali.
"This country's biggest postal building has 1,000 employees, who face the risk of ceiling collapse as it has never been repaired," the internal letter added.
The Director of Postal Services (Legal & Buildings), in its reply to the RTI query said the proposal to sanction Rs 47.59 crore for preservation, restoration and repair of the GPO building was put forth on January 29, 2016.
This plan was drafted by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage), an organisation empanelled by the postal department.
"Although 15 to 20 per cent escalation of the project cost is expected per year, an amount of Rs 30 lakh has been sanctioned by the Postal Directorate, but the work has not yet started pending permission," reads the reminder letter written to the Chief Postmaster General (Building) by the Postmaster General office.
"The condition of the Mumbai GPO is deteriorating badly and it needs large-scale preservation to prevent serious incidents. It is to point out here that a BMC agency has already declared it as a poorly maintained building in 1995," it said.
Terming this delay is an example of the "bureaucratic maze", Galgali sought an inquiry into the "inordinate delay" in the project.
"I have brought this apathy to the notice of Prime Minister's Office (PMO) requesting to expedite the restoration of the Mumbai GPO. Apart from the employees, the lives of thousands of visitors to the building are also at stake," the activist said.
The GPO was designed by British architect John Begg in 1902, construction began in September 1904 and was completed in March 1913. The structure is modelled on the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka.