Eden Inc Berhad, the Malaysian firm that operates Underwater World at Langkawi, is most likely to clinch the deal to transform the city’s 59-year-old Taraporevala Aquarium into a new-age oceanarium.
It was the sole firm — of the four shortlisted including two from Australia and one from Singapore — to submit the bid within the Tuesday deadline.
“We’ve got one bid from Eden Inc and it is valid. We’ll now study the bid’s technical aspects, while an international marine consultant will scrutinise its design. If the firm scores 60 per cent in our marking system, despite being the sole bidder it will get the project,” explained Ajay Saxena, the state’s public-private-partnership expert.
The final decision is expected within three weeks. Unlike many global aquariums that are spread over acres of land, the Taraporevala building can only grow vertically. The state’s urban development department has guaranteed it Floor Space Index of 4.
To clinch the deal, Eden will have to provide certain mandatory facilities, for instance, it has to exhibit 150 species of fish from international waters, a minimum 50 from Indian waters, including four varieties of large fish like sharks and sting-rays.
It also needs to have an underwater tunnel walkway with 180-degree vision, interactive programmes like touch pools where visitors can feed fish, and giant six-metre-long window displays. Maharashtra Urban Infrastructure Development Company Limited (MUIDCL), the agency overseeing the project, will check if the firm provides the stipulated fully automated parking space, utilises energy-saving devices, and uses only 20 per cent of the total built-up area for commercial exploitation.
The MUIDCL blueprint says Eden has the option to set up a 4-D theatre, restaurant, gift shop or fancy penguin show. The project, estimated to cost Rs 250 crore, could be given on concession to the developer for 35 to 50 years.
The original aquarium will be spruced up and maintained by the developer to ensure the current subsidised admission rates stay.