The state Accountants General (AG)’s office has started an audit of the Shivaji Memorial project following a letter from the Public Works Department (PWD) seeking a special audit into “serious irregularities” in the project.
Sources in the AG office, however, said that no special audit of the project was being done as requested by PWD engineers but the audit covered the PWD’s entire Mumbai region, in which the Shivaji Memorial project falls.
“To carry out a special audit of a project, a request should come from a secretary of the department. As the request was from subordinate engineers, a special audit was turned down. But, a regular audit, which is carried out at frequent intervals, has been initiated for the PWD’s entire Mumbai region,” said an official, requesting anonymity. “Audit of the PWD’s Mumbai region was carried out in 2013, so a fresh audit was due,” the official added.
The AG’s move comes after the chief engineer of the PWD’s Mumbai region wrote to the Principal Accountant General on March 7 requesting “necessary action against the points mentioned in the letter by the Accounts Officer”. In February, Adhikari Vikash Kumar, Divisional Accounts Officer of the Memorial Project Division, wrote to the office of the Principal Accountant General requesting a special audit of the project as “there were a few serious irregularities in the project that could not be ignored”.
Sources said the audit of the office of the chief engineer and superintending engineer (PWD) was completed last month. “Now, audit of the PWD’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial Division is being carried out and is likely to be completed this month,” the official said.
The proposed Shivaji Memorial – 212 m in height, including a 123.2-m equestrian statue standing atop an 88.8-m pedestal – is a flagship project of the BJP-led state government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had done its ‘jalpoojan’ in 2016.
Currently, work has been stalled after the PWD, in January, asked the contractor to stop work days after the Supreme Court, while hearing a special leave petition on January 11, orally asked the state not to proceed with the construction of the statue.