Shivaji memorial area shrinks by 35%
The downsizing of several critical features of the project not only violates guidelines for tenders, but also raises fears of durability, functionality and safety of the project, experts say.
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. As a result, 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.
The proposed reclamation level of the island was to be 10.5 metres from sea level, now the height has been re-designed 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. 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height of the seawall has also been reduced and the concrete block portion that was to form the base of the seawall has been replaced by a rock bund.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 Rao.
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, which has now 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.
According to central vigilance commission's guidelines, government can renegotiate the price of a project after the bidding process, but it cannot reduce the scope of work after selecting a contractor. However, the government has done exactly that after L&T, the lowest bidder, reduced the project cost from Rs 3,826 crore to Rs 2,500 crore plus GST.