Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014

Work on Modi’s pet project yet to begin, but Rs 27.6 cr already spent

SARDAR-480 The Statue of Unity.
Written by Kumar Anand | Vadodara | Posted: July 18, 2014 3:21 am | Updated: July 18, 2014 3:22 am

On the ambitious Statue of Unity project, Rs 27.6 crore has been spent so far, even as the actual construction work on the 182-metre-tall statue is likely to begin after monsoon this year. Of this, Rs 23.6 crore has been spent on a consortium of global consultancy services providing company, which was hired in August 2012 to provide design, engineering, project management and construction management services for the statue.

State Finance Minister Saurabh Patel announced a fund of Rs 500 crore for the project in the 2014-15 Budget other than Rs 100 crore allocated in the 2012-13 Budget. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley offered Rs 200 crore apart from declaring it a “National Project” during the Budget presented on July 10. The project is likely to cost in the upward of Rs 3,000 crore. Recently, infrastructure major, L&T Limited, won the bid to construct and maintain the statue for Rs 2,980 crore.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust has been managing activities related to the construction of the Statue of Unity since 2011, which include hiring global consultants and overseeing creation of a website and a “high-impact audio-visual multimedia presentation in multiple languages for the project”.

An Ahmedabad-based media and communication service provider, Moving Pixel Company, developed the website and create an audio-visual multimedia for the statue at a cost of Rs 16.4 lakh.

The trust started off by putting advertisements inviting proposal for providing consultancy services. The advertisements were also placed in international media including The Financial Times and The Economists, with the aim to invite bids from global consultancy firms. Finally, a consortium comprising of three companies – Turner Project Management, Meinhardt India and Michael Graves & Associates Inc – was hired for the purpose.

A total Rs 11,383 was spent on the foundation laying ceremony for the project that was held on October 31, 2012 in Kevadia, attended by the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and senior BJP leader L K Advani. The details of expenditure incurred so far by the Trust on the Statue of Unity project was furnished by the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) in response to an RTI application filed by a city-based activist, Rohit Prajapati.

The statue is coming up at Sadhu Bet, an island situated 3.2 kms downstream of Narmada dam at Kevadia. The SSNNL, in its reply to the RTI application, has maintained that no environment clearance or social impact assessment are required for the project. “Environment clearance is not required to obtain (for the project), hence environmental and social impact assessment of the project and its contribution to the cumulative impact of all the projects and activities in the area is not carried out,” it stated. However, activists have threatened to move the National Green Tribunal over environmental clearance for the project.

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