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Friday, September 17, 2021

Contract for Shivaji Memorial Project, PWD proposes extension of one year to firm without cost escalation

Shivaji Memorial Project: The PWD has proposed that the extension be given as the project work is stalled since January 2019 and the contractor has carried out only the bathymetry survey and partial geotechnical survey.

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai |
Updated: August 23, 2021 11:37:15 am
Sources in the government said that since it is a sensitive matter, PWD Minister Ashok Chavan may take up the issue with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. (File)

Nearly three years after Larsen & Toubro got the contract for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial Project work, the Maharashtra Public Works Department (PWD) has proposed a one-year extension to the company without cost escalation.

The final decision granting the extension would be taken at the government level, sources said.

The PWD has proposed that the extension be given as the project work is stalled since January 2019 and the contractor has carried out only the bathymetry survey and partial geotechnical survey. Except for these works, hundred per cent of the construction work is remaining. The actual work at the proposed project site in the sea has not started and no payment has been made to the contractor, it added.

Making a case for the extension, the PWD has cited court cases against the project, objections raised by CAG’s Accountant General about the tendering process and others and the Covid-19 pandemic, and said it would take time for the disposal of the court cases due to the pandemic and closure of objections raised by the CAG’s Accountant General. The current contract ends on October 18, 2021, the proposal said.

Effective October 19, 2018, the PWD had signed the contract with L&T for 36 months. However, on January 11, 2019, the Supreme Court, during a hearing of a petition, had asked the state government “not to proceed with the construction activity”. Subsequently, stop-work notice was issued to the contractor by the PWD.

Sources in the government said that since it is a sensitive matter, PWD Minister Ashok Chavan may take up the issue with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The sources further said that the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has taken a cautious approach on the project, which has been dogged by troubles since it began. Chavan said in the state legislature that the project work would commence after the satisfactory closure of irregularities in the tendering and other processes that were flagged by CAG and after addressing environmental and safety issues raised in the court cases.

The CAG’s Accountant General report observed that the previous government’s decision to reduce the cost of the memorial by negotiating with the lowest bidder and changing the scope of work has “vitiated the tendering procedure and defeated the objective of transparency in the tendering process”.

The proposed memorial-212 metres in height, including a 123.2-metre equestrian statue standing atop an 88.8 metre pedestal-was a flagship project of the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had carried out its ‘jalpoojan’ in 2016. It is expected to cost Rs 3,600 crore.

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