The construction of a grand memorial to Dr B R Ambedkar on Mumbai’s 12-acre Indu Mill land is expected to cost the Maharashtra exchequer Rs 425 crore.
Days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays the foundation stone for the memorial, the Devendra Fadnavis government in the state announced Tuesday that it had finalised the design. The design by architectural firm Shashi Prabhu & Associates involves 2.50 lakh sq ft construction at a cost of Rs 425 crore.
Given the state’s mounting debt, the architectural firm suggested permitting transferable development rights (TDR) for the unutilised built-up potential of the plot as an option. Sources in the Maharashtra government, however, said the TDR option might have a political fallout, since the government had announced it would not allow “commercial development or exploitation” of the Indu Mill land.
The government had offered to compensate the Centre-run National Textiles Corporation (NTC) with TDR worth Rs 1,300 crore for transferring the land in the state’s favour to build the memorial. The NTC, however, is not easily giving up on the plot. While it has already entered into a tripartite agreement involving the Union textiles ministry and the Maharashtra government, the NTC has pegged the land’s worth at Rs 1,800 crore at current market rates, and is still pushing for cash compensation.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had on Monday made it clear that the state government would not agree to cash compensation, and that the NTC would have to settle for TDR. With Prime Minister Modi scheduled to arrive on October 4 for the ceremony to lay the foundation stone, senior officials in the Maharashtra government said they hoped to resolve the deadlock with NTC by then.
Located at Prabhadevi in the heart of Mumbai, the land is spread over 5.23 lakh square feet. Going by Mumbai’s prevalent town planning norms — the sea-facing plot falls in the coastal regulation zone —it has a total built-up potential of 6.95 lakh sq ft. Based on the design, the unutilised potential will be 4.45 lakh sq ft. Private valuers confirmed that the current market rates in Prabhadevi is around Rs 30,000 per sq ft.
The firm designing the memorial of Dr Ambedkar, known as the ‘architect of India’s Constitution’, said the memorial would be an “oasis of solitude” amid Mumbai’s urban chaos.
A 25,000 sq ft stupa around a pond will be its main attraction. “A dome-like structure resembling a stupa will stand in the middle of the plot. It will have 24 stone ribs. The edifice will be of structural steel,” said Shashi Prabhu. The architects proposed a bronze canopy on the stupa. Prabhu said, “After sunset, a light at the tip of the stupa will give the entire structure a golden hue.”
The memorial is proposed to have a 39,622 sq ft museum. “It will be an interactive museum displaying several aspects of Ambedkar’s life. We plan to create holograms of Dr Ambedkar,” Prabhu said.
Also proposed is an underground library, and an auditorium block for cultural events. The planners, however, excluded a proposal to include a research centre and a college at the site. The memorial will have a facility to park 400 vehicles. Prabhu, meanwhile, said the construction would not involve felling of even a single tree on the mill land that has over 200 trees.