Project area shrunk by one-third, Shivaji memorial capacity halves
Late Tweaks In Contract To Cut Expense Violate Norms
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height of the seawall has also been reduced and the concrete block portion that was to form the base of the seawall has been replaced by a rock bund.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-