The Shiv Sena will not be able to inaugurate a beautified Shivaji Park at Dadar on Maharashtra Day. The Bombay High Court has stayed the revamp of the park.
A division bench of Justice F I Rebello and Justice Amjad Sayed directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to maintain status quo in the project following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by two citizens. The HC has asked the BMC to file its reply by May 5.
Durgesh Warty (47), a businessman, and Manoj Govekar (31), art director, filed a PIL alleging that the BMC had awarded the contract for the beautification of the park without inviting tenders.
The BMC awarded contracts to M/s Valson and Karan Builders and M/s Ana Associates for the project on March 3 and March 25 respectively.
The beautification was to be done at the cost of Rs 3.15 crore and Rs 1.23 crore respectively by these contractors.
The PIL said the contracts were issued by the BMC under section 73(3) of the BMC Act, which can be invoked only in case of emergencies.
Under this section the BMC need not invite tenders in case of emergencies.
"Beautification of a park, by no means, is emergency work," said senior counsel Girish Godbole, who was arguing for the petitioners. The PIL alleges favouritism towards M/s Valson and Karan Builders.
The contract was awarded for two years beginning April 4, 2008 for Rs 5 crore per year.
The PIL states the petitioners are not challenging the action of beautification as phase I of the project is in progress.
They are opposing the manner in which the contracts were awarded without inviting tenders, the PIL stated.
The PIL also alleged political influence in awarding contracts. "On March 10, a meeting was held at the Mayor’s bungalow which was attended by a political leader who had no concern whatsoever with the matters relating to contracts," states the PIL.
The beautification of Shivaji Park, which among other things involves the construction of two walls behind the statue of Meenatai Thackeray and the fixing of bronze murals of Maratha warrior king Shivaji, has become a tug of war between the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) because the Sena is for the project whereas the MNS is against it.