Cost-cut­ting on Shivaji me­mo­rial raises safety fears

Cor­ners Cut On Area, Recla­ma­tion Height, Seawall

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Bhavika.Jain1 @times­group.com

Mum­bai: The state gov­ern­ment’s ma­noeu­vring to re­duce spend­ing on the pro­posed mid-sea Shivaji me­mo­rial (pic) has come at a cost: sev­eral crit­i­cal fea­tures of the project, such as the height of recla­ma­tion as well as the seawall, have been down­sized, rais­ing fears of dura­bil­ity, func­tion­al­ity and safety, say ex­perts.

While the low­est bid­der, L&T, brought down the quote by a quar­ter, the Ma­ha­rash­tra gov­ern­ment re­duced the project area by around 35% be­fore the agree­ment was signed. The me­mo­rial will now come up on a 6.8 hectare man-made isle, in­stead of 10.6 hectares as pro­posed ear­lier, shows the ‘cost op­ti­mi­sa­tion’ re­port pre­pared by the state-ap­pointed con­sul­tant for the project— TOI has a copy of the re­port.

The pro­posed recla­ma­tion level of the is­land was to be 10.5 me­tres from sea level, now the height has been re­designed to be 9.5 me­tres. “The re­duc­tion of height will in­crease the risk of flood­ing,” said IC Rao, Vice Ad­mi­ral (retd) of APLI Mum­bai, a cit­i­zens group protest­ing the Ara­bian sea-site for the me­mo­rial.

The 2015 Na­tional Crime Records Bureau re­port on ac­ci­den­tal deaths and sui­cides stated that around 1.5% of a to­tal 4.6 lakh road ac­ci­dents in the coun­try were due to driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of drug or al­co­hol, which left a to­tal of 6,295 in­jured. The re­port fur­ther stated that more than 18 deaths oc­cured due to drunk driv­ing in the coun­try ev­ery day.

In or­der to en­sure that those who pur­chase liquor on­line meet the re­quired age cri­te­ria, min­is­ter Bawankule said sell­ers would be di­rected to take down com­plete de­tails of cus­tomers, in­clud­ing Aad­haar num­bers, to ver­ify their iden­ti­ties. “We will also check their drink­ing per­mit num­bers. I am very pos­i­tive about the project, which has many ad­van­tages.”

The min­is­ter said the depart­ment is in the fi­nal stages of geo-tag­ging liquor bot­tles to keep track of their man­u­factu- re and sale. “The tag­ging will be done on a bot­tle’s cap. With this, we will be able to track the bot­tle right from the man­u­fac­turer till it reaches the con­sumer. This will help curb the sale of spu­ri­ous liquor as well as smug­gling,” he said.

Laud­ing the gov­ern­ment’s move, high court lawyer Shree­rang Bhan­darkar said this trend is preva­lent in western coun­tries. “It started in Ger­many and oth­ers fol­lowed.”

Ac­tivist Paromita Goswami, who led the fight to im­ple­ment to­tal pro­hi­bi­tion in Chan­dra­pur dis­trict, though, termed the move as “un­con­sti­tu­tional”. She said, “Ar­ti­cle 47 of the Con­sti­tu­tion clearly pro­hibits sale of in­tox­i­cat­ing drinks which may lead to in­juries or death. The gov­ern­ment should re­think the move, which may in­crease liquor ad­dic­tion in the state. It should, in­stead, re­peal Ma­ha­rash­tra Pro­hi­bi­tion Act.”

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