The Democratic Front government’s ambitious showcase project for constructing a Rs 1,500-crore giant Shivaji statue in the Arabian Sea has hit a roadblock with just one project management consultant (PMC) coming forward after the government called for technical bids earlier this month.
Officials said even the sole bidder had failed to meet several of the criteria mandated in the Request for Proposal (RFP) documents, leaving them with little option but to call for bids all over again.
The only one to apply for the PMC’s position is the Indo-French firm STUP Consultants (Pvt) Ltd. While the government has not yet fixed the fees for the PMC, even if the selected firm is paid one per cent of the project cost, it stands to earn anything above Rs 15 crore.
Officials from the Public Works Departments (PWD), which is executing the project, said they were unprepared for the tepid response. “Considering the prestigious nature of the project, we expected a flood of applications when we floated the RFP documents. However, since this project is the first of its kind in the country, it seems to be difficult to find someone who meets all our conditions,” an official said.
The interested firms are required to have at least ten years of experience in consultancy services for coastal memorial or infrastructure projects spread over a minimum area of 10 hectares and with a project cost of over Rs 700 crore.
The official said that a high-powered committee for the memorial led by NCP leader Jayant Patil would decide on the further course of action.
In view of the upcoming Assembly polls, kick-starting work on the Shivaji memorial is one of the top priorities of the Congress-NCP combine. The construction of the statue was one of the key manifesto promises of the alliance in the run-up to both the 2004 and 2009 state elections. The statue is also a major political plank, considering that the 17th-century warrior king assumes great significance in the state, especially for the sizable Maratha community that constitutes 30 per cent of the Maharashtra’s population.
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“We will start work on the project as soon as we get environmental clearance from the union ministry of environment and forests,” said Patil, who is also the guardian minister for Mumbai.
The proposed 190-metre-high equestrian statue off Marine Drive is to be slightly taller than Gujarat’s under-construction Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue, which was until then slated to be the world’s tallest.
In addition to the setback over lack of response by PMCs, the state government is also engaged in a legal tussle with Team One Architects after the later challenged the state’s decision to discard their concept design that was approved by the Ashok Chavan-led government on the eve of the last Assembly polls.