Mumbai, Jan 25 (PTI) The repair and restoration work of the iconic General Post Office (GPO) building in South Mumbai is likely to start soon as the Postal Directorate has finally cleared a proposal to that effect, officials said on Friday.

The project to repair the Grade-I heritage structure failed to take off so far due to the delay in clearing the proposal, they said.

“Finally, clearance has been given to repair and restore the glory of the (GPO) building and we hope to start the work in the next few weeks. The restoration work will be monitored by the INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage), an organisation empanelled by the postal department,” Chief Post Master General of Maharashtra and Goa circle, H C Agrawal, told PTI.

INTACH is a private trust comprising renowned architects and planners having an expertise to handle heritage architecture restoration.

The GPO serves as the headquarters of the Maharashtra and Goa circle of the postal department, which handles major chunk of the city’s inbound and outbound mail and parcel services.

Over 1,000 postal staffers, who work in the GPO, had been demanding restoration of the building, especially after they learnt that the nearby Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus headquarter building was being restored by the Railways.

“The entire restoration project would cost around Rs 58 crore. We will keep vacating the premises sectionwise for the restoration work. This will go on until it gets over. The project which had got stuck, will finally see the light of day,” Agrawal said.

The GPO building was designed in Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. It was designed by British architect John Begg in 1902. Its construction began in September 1904 and was completed in March 1913. The structure is modelled on the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka.

In response to an RTI query filed by activist Anil Galgali, the department of post had said in 2017 that the structure needed immediate repairs. Thereafter, he had written to Prime Minister’s Office requesting that the restoration work should be expedited.

“Not only the GPO staffers, but also the visitors were at risk. But it’s better late than never. I hope the project does not get stuck in red-tapism now,” he said.

The GPO employees also expressed happiness over the development saying the building needed immediate rapairs.

“Now ‘achhe din’ are coming for the GPO. We failed to understand why our senior officials in Delhi kept neglecting this iconic building,” an official said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.