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Shivaji memorial puts govt at sea

Project cost has risen from Rs500cr to Rs3,500cr; state decides to complete monument in two phases

mumbai Updated: Aug 14, 2016 00:55 IST
Surendra P Gangan
With the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government aiming to complete the project before the 2019 assembly elections, it has now decided to split the project into two phases
With the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government aiming to complete the project before the 2019 assembly elections, it has now decided to split the project into two phases(An artist’s impression of the memorial)

The cost of the Maharashtra government’s ambitious Shivaji memorial project in the Arabian sea off Mumbai coast is ballooning and is likely to be in the range of Rs2,700 crore to Rs3,500 crore, according to sources.

Wary of the rising cost, the government is now considering different ways to reduce it. The government has decided to kickstart the project at the earliest and split it in two phases to keep a check on its cost.

In the recent meeting of the high-power committee headed by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, he approved the concept design of the project submitted by M/s Egis India and Design Associates, the project management consultant for the memorial. During the presentation, the committee was also apprised that the cost of the equestrian Shivaji statue and the surrounding wall to be built to stabilise the force of the water will cost around Rs2,700 crore. Other features, including a library, museum, theatre, jetties will cost another Rs500-800 crore, taking the cost up to Rs3,500 crore.

The committee expressed concern over the rising cost of the project owing to the delay and the various types of the studies it involved.

With the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government aiming to complete the project before the 2019 assembly elections, it has now decided to split the project into two phases. “The first phase with the statue, pedestal and the common amenities will be completed by December 2018. The Bhoomipujan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take place in the first or second week of October this year. The quick implementation of the project will help us in containing the rising cost,” said Vinayak Mete, chairman of the implementation committee and supervising committee for the project.

Fadnavis has also asked the state administration to tap the possibilities of tax exemptions on the material imported for the statue, so as to reduce the cost. “It will be difficult for the cash-strapped government to raise Rs2,700 crore in just two years. Minute studies of various aspects, some of the new requirements that come up, gradually lead to the rise in the cost, which was just Rs500 crore in 2008-09. The government may also think of public participation in terms of raising funds from organisations and corporate houses, ” an official from the public works department said.

Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who is part of the committee, however, said that the finances would not be constraint as the government has many ways to raise the funds.

“Funding can not be the problem for this iconic project. I have at least 50 sources to raise funds. For instance, even if the state employees decide to donate their salary for 7 days or we use the interest on the MMRDA deposits, it can fund the project,” he added.