Project area shrunk by one-third, Shivaji me­mo­rial ca­pac­ity halves

Late Tweaks In Con­tract To Cut Ex­pense Vi­o­late Norms

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Bhavika.Jain1@ times­group.com

Mum­bai: The size of the man-made isle for the mid-sea Shivaji me­mo­rial has been re­duced by 35% by the gov­ern­ment while ne­go­ti­at­ing the cost of the project with the low­est bid­der. This means the me­mo­rial will be able to ac­com­mo­date only up to 3,000 peo­ple per hour, and not 6,500 as es­ti­mated ear­lier, bring­ing down the es­ti­mated daily foot­fall to 10,000 from 25,000.

Sim­i­larly, the height of the seawall has also been re­duced and the con­crete block por­tion that was to form the base of the seawall has been re­placed by a rock bund. “The sea wall will guard the me­mo­rial from the sea ac­tiv­ity and so it must rest on a firm base. Us­ing rock bund could lead to cracks in the wall,” said IC Rao, Vice Ad­mi­ral (retd) of APLI Mum­bai.

Be­sides the am­phithe­atre, en­tire fa­cade light­ing, bag­gage scan­ner and au­to­matic fare col­lec­tion sys­tem have deleted from the scope of the low­est bid­der. “Even in­stal­la­tion of a standby trans­former has been de­ferred. What if power sup­ply to the is­land is af­fected? There will be no standby op­tions,” said Rao. De­fer­ring fur­ni­ture and ex­ter­nal land­scape for later pro­cure­ment will lead to cost es­ca­la­tion in fu­ture, Rao added.

Mas­sive mod­i­fi­ca­tions have also been planned for the Shivaji statue, pegged to be world’s tallest when it is un­veiled in three years. The height of the sword has been in­creased and that of the ac­tual statue re­duced. With the re­duc­tion in vol­ume of the statue, the quan­tity of metal needed for it will also go down. The low­est bid­der, L&T, had Rs 976 crore for the civil works and and struc­ture of the statue, which has gone down to Rs 638 crore af­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions.

As per the orig­i­nal plan, there was sup­posed to be a 120 bed­ded staff ac­com­mo­da­tion on the site, which has been down­sized to a fa­cil­ity for 30 peo­ple. “Hav­ing just 30 peo­ple on the site to man­age and main­tain the such a large fa­cil­ity is ‘sub-op­ti­mal’. This will have a di­rect bear­ing on the way the me­mo­rial will be run,” said Rao.

Be­sides, the down­siz­ing of the project also vi­o­lates the gov­ern­ment guide­lines for ten­ders. Ac­cord­ing to cen­tral vig­i­lance com­mis­sion’s guide­lines, gov­ern­ment can rene­go­ti­ate the price of a project af­ter the bid­ding process, but can­not re­duce the scope of work .

Vi­nayak Mete, a Maratha leader head­ing the steer­ing com­mit­tee over­see­ing the project, ad­mit­ted that the pro- ject has been down­sized and said it is un­for­tu­nate that peo­ple are pri­ori­tis­ing money over the statue of the Maratha war­rior king. “We had to make many changes to bring the cost down. Many of the el­e­ments that were not im­por­tant have been de­ferred for the ‘Phase-II’ of the project. The statue is the cen­tre of the project and no changes have been made to that. Ev­ery­thing else has been tweaked to save mo-

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