Even as the state government is planning a bhoomipujan for the proposed Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar memorial in April, it is yet to get a designer on board for the project despite having conducted a competition between several global and domestic firms nearly a year ago to pick the best.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the special planning authority for the project, had, through a selection committee, shortlisted two companies after a competition among the 10 entries it had shortlisted in November last year.
The two entries that were selected were by Indian architecture firm Shashi Prabhu & Associates, and French design firm Jakob MacFarlane.
U P S Madan, metropolitan commissioner at MMRDA, said, “At our level, MMRDA in its authority meeting had discussed the two proposals. It was decided to recommend both to a committee set up for the project under the chairmanship of the chief minister, with other members including representatives of political parties. That committee is yet to discuss the matter.”
Madan said the MMRDA had referred the proposals to the urban development department, under which this committee was formed, in July this year.
Another MMRDA official said the committee may have to be first reconstituted post-elections as it had several ex-officio members. He added that the matter had been discussed with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Both the designs suggested are in concept open airy structures, flanked by trees and landscaping, and provisioned for several activities in the basement. The memorial is to be built on a 4.84-hectare plot at India United Mills No 5, popularly known as Indu Mills. It will be equipped with recreational elements such as an auditorium, a library and plaza for community gatherings.
The plot, off the Arabian Sea, is close to Chaityabhoomi, where Ambedkar’s ashes are kept. Dalit groups had been, for long, demanding an Ambedkar memorial at the site.
On Friday, the Union Ministry of Textiles had said it would expedite the process to hand over the land for the memorial which currently belongs to the National Textile Corporation.
While the erstwhile Union Cabinet had, in November 2013, approved a proposal empowering the Centre to acquire the mill land to facilitate the transfer, the Parliament is yet to pass a bill in this regard. With the Union government’s assurance, the state has set a deadline of performing the bhoomipujan for the project on April 14, Dr Ambedkar’s birth anniversary.