Wednesday, April 13, 2005

LOCAL GOVT: Self-financing office complexes in all districts

As population increases, the functions of the government departments also increase. Consequently, the need for additional office space is felt in almost all districts. New offices are being set up in the districts which were creat­ed recently. The situation is, however, becoming critical in the old dis­tricts. Every available covered area is being used on ad hoc basis, causing great congestion and consequent loss in efficiency. It is proposed that a standard design be prepared for district office complex­es. The offices of all government departments should be accommo­dated in the complex.

Advantages. The proposed complex will have the following advan­tages:
a) great economy in building costs,
b) saving in providing common services, like water supply, severage, electricity, etc.
c) possibility of providing a telephone exchange to work as common inter­com for all departments, making all inter-department and intra depart­ment calls prompt, easy and free of cost.
d) possibility of providing common telecommunications facilities for all departments, like hotlines and fax,
e) much better coordination between various departments,
f) great savings in time and transport costs for official meetings,
g) great convenience for the public to get everything done at one place even if contact with different departments is required.

Main features. The standard design should have the following main features:
Land. Fortunately, the land available in almost all old district head­quar­ters is adequate to meet the increasing needs. The covered area met only the needs that were felt several decades ago, with abundant space left all around them.
Multi-storey. The main building should be designed for at least 10-15 floors, even if only one floor is needed for the present. The extra cost will be only for the foundations but the addition of new floors will be easy and cost very little, making it very economical in the long run.
Frame structure. All buildings in the complex should be designed with a frame structure. This will turn every floor into a one huge hall, which may then be partitioned and repartitioned into rooms of various sizes and shapes as and when the requirements change. The changes will be made by simply removing and rebuilding thin partition walls, without disturbing the roof or the floor.
Central airconditioning. The design of the complex should allow for cen­tral airconditioning even if it is not done immediately. The provision for ducting and space for the airconditioning units may be made while the instal­lation may be done when the resources permit.
Lifts. The design should provide for adequate number of lifts to meet the maximum requirements after all storeys have been built. Initially, only the number of required lifts may be installed.
Parking. The complex must have parking space several times more than the present needs in order to accommodate the additional vehicles of the departments and the public in future as economic development increases. Provision for underground parking of official vehicles will ensure their secu­rity against possibility of sabotage attacks.
Lock-ups. Secure lock-ups should be provided in the same building and preferably on the same floor on which the courts will be located. The pris­oners under trial may be kept there during the hearings. This will avoid the problems caused by transport of the accused to and from jail, including the possibility of their escape. The possibility of attacks on the accused by opponents during transport will also be eliminated.

Implementation. The first question that arises is that of finance. It will be extremely difficult to divert huge amounts for building the proposed complexes in all districts.
The Government, however, need not provide any funds as the entire project will be self-financed.

The Government may invite private companies to submit offers for the prepa­ration of design and then the construction of the proposed complexes. The offer should have the following major features:
a) The private party will form a company, known as Office Building Company, with the Government having only a minority share, not more than 30% in any case.
b) The land available at present at the district offices will be provided to the Company on lease, which will continue as long as the Company owns and maintains the complex.
c) The Company may give the ground and one or two upper floors on rent to private parties on rent provide it does not cause too much traf­fic, con­gestion and inconvenience for the government offices. The rent will be at market rates.
d) The rent for the space utilized by the Government will not be that of the local market but will be determined on a basis that gives a fair return to the Company on its investment.
e) The Government shall pay rent in lumpsum and directly to the Company for the space occupied by the offices of its various depart­ments. The departments will approach the Government if they need additional space and, if approved, the Government will ask the Company to provide the re­quired space if already available or arrange for the construction of additional floor(s).
f) The maintenance of the complex will be the responsibility of the Company in accordance with the agreed terms.
g) The Company will arrange for the required finance from its own sources. The Government may, if possible, provide some loan, which may be adjusted against payment of rent.

Phases. The project should be completed in phases. The Company may take up con­struction in about five or six districts at a time. This will help in avoiding many problems.
After the district complexes are complete, the Company can undertake the construction of similar complexes even at the tehsil/subdivision level.

This article was reformatted on July 27, 1996. Originally saved on May 26, 1990.

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