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On a collision course

india Updated: Dec 16, 2009 00:54 IST
Dharmendra Jore
Dharmendra Jore
Hindustan Times
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Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal are again at loggerheads over redevelopment of Mantralaya precincts’ located at Nariman Point—one of the costliest real estate addresses in the world.

The trigger this time is Chavan-led Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s (MMRDA) plan to build a 100-plus storey skyscraper on land owned by the Public Works Department (PWD) at Nariman Point opposite the Mantralaya. Last week, MMRDA announced its plan for the commercial tower, which will also house government offices.

Bhujbal, who heads the PWD, has strongly opposed this proposal as it clashes with his Rs 1,300-crore Mantralaya makeover plan. Bhujbal’s proposal has been pending approval from the state cabinet for several months. Bhujbal has proposed that a private builder will redevelop Mantralaya and will be given the PWD-owned area for construction of a commercial tower to
derive his profits. As per norm, it is the PWD’s responsibility to construct and maintain government buildings.

Bhujbal told HT on Tuesday that the cabinet had already cleared his initial proposal and he was confident that it will be approved again. “I expect the CM to take up my proposal before the cabinet for its final approval. My department followed all procedures with all perfection after the cabinet cleared it a couple of years ago.” Indiabulls, with a bid of Rs 1,376 crore, nearly bagged the project under the PWD-led proposal, but it did not receive CM’s approval.

Commenting on MMRDA’s proposal, Bhujbal said that no state corporation, undertaking or authority was above the cabinet. “I expect all my cabinet colleagues to support my proposal because Mantralaya redevelopment is pending for the past 20 years.”

Chavan confirmed that MMRDA submitted such a proposal but declined to comment on the approval of the plan. “The agency gave me a presentation on this,” Chavan said.

MMRDA’s proposal for the 100-storey building could become an important part of MMRDA’s Rs 3,500 crore Nariman Point Redevelopment Plan. Chavan has asked MMRDA to implement the plan by 2013.

Apart from the Mantralaya project, Chavan had also stalled two more proposals that Bhujbal put forth — redevelopment of the government colony in Bandra and toll hike at the city’s entry points.