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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Coronavirus outbreak delays work on Ambedkar statue in China

Union minister Ramdas Athawale, who visited Indu Mill on Sunday, and met officials of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), asked them to check if the work on the statue could be moved to another country to ensure that the project is completed on time.

Written by Neeraj Tiwari | Mumbai | Published: February 25, 2020 3:16:26 am
Maharashtra govt formation, Maharashtra government formation, Maharashtra government, Ramdas Athawale, Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra BJP, Maharashtra chief minister, Elections news, Indian Express “The MMRDA and the contractor should look at other options where the statue can be assembled if the project is being delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak in China,” Athawale said. (File photo)

The outbreak of coronavirus in China has slowed down the work on the statue of Dr B R Ambedkar proposed to come up at Indu Mill. The statue, measuring 450 feet, is being assembled in China but may not be able to meet its deadline.

Union minister Ramdas Athawale, who visited Indu Mill on Sunday, and met officials of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), asked them to check if the work on the statue could be moved to another country to ensure that the project is completed on time.

“The MMRDA and the contractor should look at other options where the statue can be assembled if the project is being delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak in China,” Athawale said.

During the meeting, MMRDA officials, while responding to Athawale, had claimed that the outbreak in China had put a dampener on the project. The officials, however, were unable to give a proper timeline as to when the project will be completed. They said the situation in China was still volatile and work on such industrial-size projects were presently in abeyance.

In response, Athawale said the development authority should plan for all eventualities and look for options where the statue could be assembled.

Officials, however, pointed out that moving the entire project to another country will increase its cost substantially.

In 2015, the then BJP-Shiv Sena government had given the green signal to the construction of a memorial to Ambedkar on 12 acres of land at Indu Mill, at an estimated cost of Rs 425 crore. But due to a delay in implementing the project, the cost increased to Rs 719 crore.

The contract for the construction of the park and the memorial was awarded to Shapoorji Pallonji. After the height of the statue was increased, the cost also escalated from Rs 719 crore to Rs 1,000 crore. The project is expected to be completed by 2022, but the coronavirus outbreak has made officials sceptical about meeting the deadline.

In an official statement, the spokesperson of Shapoorji Pallonji said, “At present, we do not foresee any challenges in the schedule for the Ambedkar project due to the coronavirus outbreak. The key components of the project are yet to progress to the procurement and construction stage.”

The Ambedkar Park will have a stupa across 25,000 sq ft and a museum across 39,622 sq ft. The dome-shaped structure at the centre will be designed with 24 stone ribs and will have ponds and gardens. The museum and library will have literature on the life and works of Ambedkar.

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