The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has proposed to construct parts of the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial in Dadar in stainless steel to avoid corrosion. This was decided after experts at IIT-Bombay conducted a study and suggested the use of a material for the longer life and better maintenance of the 350-feet-tall structure. “Some inaccessible areas of the statue, like the hand and the face, will be difficult to reach for maintenance and will be constructed in stainless steel. Since the statue is so close to the sea, this is necessary to prevent corrosion,” said Pravin Darade, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA.
While this will increase the life of the structure, it will also considerably increase the cost. The cost has phenomenally increased from the estimated Rs 425 crore in 2015 to Rs 709 crore now. The statue is being constructed Shapoorji Pallonji Group. “Stainless steel will be at least 20 per cent of the structural steel in the memorial and will have a life span of 100 years. But it is at least four times the cost of normal steel, which will be used in the rest of the statue,” said a senior MMRDA official.
The first 30 metres of the memorial, which will include the museum and the art gallery, will be constructed as an RCC structure. On this will stand the 75-metre statue, fully constructed in structural steel with a lift for maintenance purposes. “On the statue’s exterior, there will be six to eight metres thickness of bronze. The statue will be repainted every 5 to 10 years to prevent corrosion. But the fingers and the face have very minute detailing, and it will be difficult to maintain that. The lift will help in the statue’s regular maintenance,” he added.
Meanwhile, there are plans to install another lift to allow the public to go up to the statue and enjoy the beautiful seaview. “We are also considering a provision for people to go up and experience the view from the top. The poorest of the poor should be able to enjoy a view like that. We have not decided it yet but there could be another lift that will take the public up to 300 feet, which is 35 storeys,” said Shashi Prabhu, the memorial’s architect.
The memorial, to be constructed on the 12-acre Indu Mill land, will also have a two-layered basement parking, a 1,000-seater auditorium, library, cafeteria, meditation centre and a replica of the Chavdaar pond. But most of thest things will not be visible from a bird’s eye view as they will be covered by a landscape garden. “We have planned different landscaping here with sloping sidewalls. The top of the auditorium and the museum will be green and the area will have fountains and flowers. As the trees on the land are 70-80 years old, we will retain most of them. Some will have to be transplanted though. The city needs green spaces and we are creating one here,” added Prabhu.
While the MMRDA has allocated a sum of Rs 150 crore for structure in its budget recently, the contractor has begun preliminary work for the memorial.