The state government Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that the proposed construction of the mid-sea memorial of warrior king Shivaji was a completely new project and concept, as opposed to the statue designed by the firm Team One Architects (TOA), which has dragged the government to court for calling for fresh tenders for construction of the memorial designed by the J J School of Arts.
TOA had filed a petition challenging a state government resolution of May 2013, which had called for tenders for the construction of the memorial as proposed by the J J School of Arts. TOA’s design of the equestrian statute was chosen as the winner from among 11 designs and approved by the state government in 2009. The architectural firm contended that the government had failed to honour its previously approved plan.
Advocate general D J Khambata, however, told the court Wednesday that the project for which the fresh tenders were called for was an entirely new concept.
Assistant government pleader J S Saluja said that the new project entailed a new location, a new site, was bigger in size and would also include a museum. The plans for the new design were reviewed by a high-powered committee under the city’s guardian minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jayant Patil. The committee had decided to undertake the project based on an in-house design by the J J School of Arts and this was a policy decision of the government, Saluja said.
TOA’s counsel Janak Dwarkadas argued that the terms of bidding had emphasised on the word “only” and said only the design of the winner of the competition would be approved. He said that for over four years, the petitioners attended cabinet committee meetings pertaining to the construction of the statue, made presentations, slides, surveys and incurred expenses on that account. He added that at no point in time, the government had informed TOA about issuing new tenders for building a memorial, nor had it cited any reasons for turning down the design of the petitioners. The government had breached its promise, the TOA stated.
Justices V M Kanade and A K Menon asked the state government to file an affidavit in reply to TOA’s petition by May 7. The government’s proposed 190-metre high equestrian statue would be eight metres higher than the under-construction Vallabhbhai Patel statue in Gujarat, a pet project of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi that was intended to be the tallest until that point. As per Team One’s concept design, the statue was to be 321-ft high, slightly taller than the Statue of Liberty in the US.