Congress-NCP alleges ₹1,000-crore irregularities in Shivaji statue project
The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Monday alleged a ₹1,000-crore scam in the Shivaji memorial project, accusing the state of negotiating with the contractor to violate set norms and make illegal changes to the specifications.
At a joint press conference, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant and NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik cited a letter allegedly written by Vinayak Mete, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator and head of the committee appointed to oversee the project, saying the leader had reportedly raised serious concerns over irregularities.
Mete had reportedly stated in the letter, dated September 2018, that many changes were made to the specifications of the projects, including height of the statue, sword, pedestal and it could pose a trouble in the future.
The letter had also pointed at the haste in which the work order was issued and the possibility of the financial consideration while allotting the contract, the opposition leaders claimed.
BJP’s state unit chief and public works department minister Chandrakant Patil said the bid was allotted following the norms and only after the permission from the law and judiciary department.
Sachin Sawant alleged: “The government did not take cognisance of the letter written by the committee chief. Similarly, two officials attached to the office of the accountant general had made complaints about the violation of the Central Vigilance Commission guidelines while allotting the contract and pressure on the officials to release ₹80 crore to the contractor. The state did not seek legal opinion from its own law and judiciary department or advocate general and instead the negotiations were done with the contractor on the basis of the legal experts appointed by the project management consultant. One of the legal experts later represented the contractor in apex court.”
Nawab Malik said the project was allotted to the contractor who had quoted a construction cost of 42% above the value of the tender of ₹2,692 crore.
“The lowest bidder, Larsen & Toubro, quoted ₹3,826 crore, but the government pretended as if it negotiated with the contractor to reduce the quotation by more than ₹1,100 crore,” he said.
Patil clarified: “The amount quoted by Sawant and Malik was not the value of the tender, but the estimated value quoted in the bid document to appoint a consultant. The actual bid invited was to prepare design, construction and quote the estimated cost and hence the cost quoted by the lowest bidder cannot be stated to be above the tender value.”
The minister said that Mete has already clarified about his letter, which had raised a few concerns and not made any allegations.
He also has said the legal expert who had given a go-ahead for the negotiations never represented the contractor in the Supreme Court.