The opening of tenders for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Statue of Unity project to build the tallest statue in the world as a memorial to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, uncannily coincided with the Union Budget injecting an additional Rs 200 crore declaring it a “National Project” on Thursday.
The tender bids for the construction and maintenance of the Statue of Unity were opened on Wednesday, with engineering giant L&T set to get the contract at the lowest bid of Rs 2,980 crore against the cost of Rs 2,063 crore estimated for the project.
Managing Director of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), the implementing agency for the 182-metre-tall Statue of Unity project, J N Singh said that the declaration of a national project will definitely work positively for the project. “It will get national attention. And we stay assured that the Central Government is also there for us. Also, you stay assured that if there is any hurdle it will be resolved.”
Singh said that the commitment of the Centre to grant Rs 200 crore to the project is also very encouraging. “The state government is there to fund the project. But, the Central assistance is welcome,” he added.
The Gujarat government’s 2014-15 budget also sanctioned Rs 500 crore for the Statue of Unity project. The Indian Express had run a report last month on how the iron collection drive for the project had not yielded the desired results with as many as 16 states not contributing anything for the project.
Sources said that the government had invited tenders for the design, engineering, construction, operation and maintenance of the Statue of Unity from companies across the world. Only two firms filled the tenders – L&T being one and the other, a consortium of companies. Sources said that L&T had filed bid of Rs 2,980 crore for the project that included operation and maintenance of 15 years, whereas, the consortium had bid for Rs 4,100 crore.
The tender procedure was done by a consultant firm appointed by the SSNNL and now the latter plans to issue a Letter of Intent (LoI) to L&T for initiating the project after necessary negotiations. Sources said that L&T is expected to start work on the project after monsoon.
A separate society named as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust has been formed by the Gujarat government for the implementation of the project.