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Friday, June 19, 1998

City's largest open-air theatre gets a roof

Abhijit Atre  
PUNE, June 18: Members of the Pune Vikas Aghadi call it Suresh Kalmadi's dream project. His opponents consider it an extravagant scheme for which the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has been forced to shell out over Rs 1.6 crore, which comes directly from the taxpayer's pocket.

Be that as it may, come September and the Shree Ganesh Kala Krida Rangmanch, the city's largest open air theatre in the vicinity of the Pandit Nehru stadium, which has played host to Kalmadi's Pune Festival for over a decade, will finally be roofed.

The theatre, which boasts of a seating capacity of 45,000, will get a spanking new stainless steel roof, 40 feet high, covering the entire theatre to ensure that the scheduled events can go on without interruptions by rains or strong winds.

The work of roofing the 42,000 square feet open air theatre is nearing completion. Seven of the eight girders on which the stainless steel sheets will be fixed, have been installed.

When contacted by The Indian Express, Shriniwas Dake of Constructions Catalysers, a city-based firm which was awarded the project contract by the PMC in August 1997, said the last girder would be installed within the next two days.

The project has been designed in such a manner that it will only have eight spans, symbolising Ashta-Vinayaka (the eight most sacred Ganesh temples in Maharashtra, each one having a unique statue of Ganesha), Dake said, adding that each span would represent one Vinayaka.

The work of fixing the steel sheets will be completed by August this year. The central height of the triangular structure will be 40 feet. The girders, spaced eight metres apart, have varying spans - the largest being 200 feet and the smallest one 130 feet - with no columns in between.

The girders have been installed on a strong foundation of 16 clusters, eight on either sides. This has eliminated the need to install columns in between the span which could obstruct the view of the audience, Dake elaborated.

The PMC has earmarked Rs 1.10 crore in the current year's civic budget for the project, in addition to the Rs 50 lakh provided in last year's budget. It may be noted here that despite the budgetary allocation, execution of the project was delayed by the civic administration.

The then municipal commissioner Ramanath Jha had argued that he was forced to curtail the budgetary allocations on capital intensive works following a deficit. The project was finally given the green signal last year when Kalmadi's supporter Aba Bagul was the chairman of the civic standing committee.

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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