The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority will spend Rs1.41 crore for a function where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch work on three of the state’s big-ticket transport projects.
The bhoomipujan or ground laying ceremony on December 24 comes at a time when the race for the Mumbai civic polls, to be held in February next year, heats up. It will be followed by a public rally that the PM will address. With the BJP’s campaign for the civic polls centered around its development agenda for the city, the party is looking to use the rally to officially sound the poll bugle.
The PM will lay the foundation stone for two metro projects — the Rs10,970-crore Metro line between DN Nagar and Mankhurd and the Rs14,549-crore Metro line connecting Wadala and Kasarwadawali in Thane — and the Rs17,750-crore Mumbai Trans Harbour Link between Sewri and Nhava.
M/s Jess Ideas Pvt Ltd was awarded the bid to construct the venue at the MMRDA Grounds in the Bandra-Kurla Complex. “The contractor would be responsible for setting up the venue, right from building boundaries to setting up LED screens, catering food and constructing VIP rooms, etc,” said an MMRDA official.
MMRDA officials said there were six other bidders in the fray. “Our estimated cost was Rs1.73 crore and Jess Ideas’ bid was 18% lower than our estimated cost,” said Pravin Darade, additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA.
While tenders for civil works of the two Metro corridors are likely to be issued in January next year, the MTHL tender is unlikely to be issued before the civic elections. Last year, the agency spent Rs94.49 lakh on two other bhoomipujan ceremonies.
In the past decade, the city’s development authority has spent at least Rs3.3 crore on conducting such ceremonies and high-profile inaugurations, most held within a year and in the run up to an election. In all these events, Union and state ministers and local area representatives made speeches about their parties’ prowess. In October 2015, Modi laid the foundation stone for two other metro projects and the Rs425-crore sea-facing memorial for Dr BR Ambedkar, a long-standing demand from the Dalit community, on the eve of the Bihar Assembly polls.