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Why cost is a tall order for Maharashtra’s plan to build giant Shivaji memorial in Mumbai

mumbai Updated: Apr 26, 2017 01:11 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Maharashtra government

The government has estimated that the project in the Arabian sea off Mumbai coast would cost around Rs 3500 crore.(File)

The Maharashtra government is likely to invite bids again to appoint a contractor for the construction of the phase one of the grand memorial to Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji after the bids it received were much higher than expected amid worries that the budget is likely to shoot up further.

The government has estimated that the project in the Arabian sea off Mumbai coast would cost around Rs 3500 crore. It has anticipated that the first leg of the project would cost between Rs2300 crore and Rs 2500 crore and the second phase is likely to cost about Rs 1000 crore.

The lowest bidder quoted over Rs 1500 crore more than the estimated cost of the project.

The government is now considering to renegotiate with the lowest bidder or invite bids again so that the bidding amount would come down. It is also planning wider publicity to attract more bidders for the project so that competition could force bidders to reduce prices.

When the bids were opened by the public works department last Saturday, the government found the lowest tender by Larsen & Toubro Limited, at Rs 3826 crore and Shapoorji Palonji Group at Rs 4779 crore.

“We will first negotiate with L&T to check if we could arrive at the amicable quotation. In case the talks fail, we will go for the re-tendering,” Vinayak Mete, who heads the committee that overlooks the project, said.

“I think we failed to get a wider response from the players at the global level in the first attempt. With more competition, we may bring down the cost quoted,” Mete added.

The final decision over the appointment of the company will be taken by the high power committee headed by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

According to an official from the general administration department, the gap between the government’s estimate and the quotation may be due to the lapses in the estimation.

“Since this is the first of its kind project, the estimation might have gone wrong leading to a much higher quotation by the lowest bidder. The companies qualified for the financial bid had submitted jeep-loads of documents to prove their quotation. In such a scenario, the cost is likely to remain high even after the re-bidding,” he added.

The project involves building the world’s tallest statue, surpassing the height of New York’s Statue of Liberty and the under-construction Statue of Unity of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat. The entire memorial will be 210 metres tall, close to over 80-storey structure, built entirely in the sea on an islet of 15.96 hectares.

The project was conceived in the 1980s and has been a talking point for all political parties ever since.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted a groundbreaking ceremony for the ambitious project last December, in the run-up to Mumbai’s civic polls and pacify the restless Maratha community, which was protesting for quotas in government jobs and education.

Shivaji is held as an icon of the Maratha community, which constitutes 33% of Maharashtra’s population.

Read more: Shivaji memorial in sea: 13 firms show initial interest in building statue

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