In its affidavit before the Bombay High Court, the state government has justified its plans to junk the old concept plan for the mid-sea Shivaji memorial on the grounds that the new design incorporates plans for Maratha empire library, a 10-bed hospital and has an expanded capacity for 10,000 people in addition to a statue double the previously proposed size.
It also states that the old design was meant to last merely for 100 years.
The matter is slated to come up for hearing on Wednesday.
The affidavit was filed on May 5 by the state Public Works Department (PWD) in response to a writ petition filed by Team One Architects whose design was selected by the Ashok Chavan government and who now have challenged the government’s decision to go for a new design by JJ school of Architecture principal Rajiv Mishra early this year.
Pointing out the key differences between the two concept designs, the PWD goes on to say that while the old plan was to construct on a 3.8-hectare stilt one km from H2O Jetty in the Arabian sea, the new design is for a 16-hectare existing mid-sea rock 1.2 km from Raj Bhavan, 2.6 km from Nariman Point and 3.6 km from H2O jetty. Likewise, the height of the equestrian statue itself has been more than doubled from 94 m to 190 m.
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The affidavit states that plans are now afoot to also have a 2,945 sqm marine aquarium at the basement, a 1721-sqm ground-level dolphin pool and an amphitheater, besides a 5302-sqm Maratha empire library. It says the capacity of the memorial also has increased manifold from accommodating 3,000 visitors per day to 10,000 a day.
While the affidavit doesn’t make any mention of how the estimated cost of the project has soared meteorically, recent Request for Proposal documents issued by the government show that what was conceived as a Rs 100-crore statue in 2005 will now cost the tax-payers a whopping Rs 1,500 crore.
In the earlier design, it was decided that an underwater aquarium would be redundant as there is already the Taraporewala aquarium along the Marine Drive stretch itself.
The petitioners, Team One Architects, have claimed that the state government, which had through a competition selected their deign for the memorial, even drafted an agreement but decided at the last minute to not execute the contract, leading to the petitioners having to incur huge expenditure on the project.
The PWD’s affidavit has denied these claims and has urged that the petition be dismissed as “the petitioners are not entitled to any relief”.