While the Maharashtra government has ordered commencement of work on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj statue in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai’s Marine Drive from October 24 — despite the revised designs yet to get a nod from the project’s technical panel — more irregularities have now emerged.
A series of alterations to the design and scope of the project undertaken to bring down the overall cost were neither cleared by the Project Management Consultant’s (PMC’s) parent company, nor were they certified as technically sound by IIT-Bombay, though a committee chaired by the state’s chief secretary had directed the PMC to take up these measures.
Documents obtained by The Indian Express under the Right to Information Act reveal that the PMC — Egis India Consulting Engineers Pvt Ltd — made a presentation on the cost reduction measures at a meeting chaired by the chief secretary on February 5.
“The cost reduction measures, within the scope of the tender and acceptable options, should be vetted by Egis France and then they must be certified by IIT-Mumbai,” the committee directed, according to the minutes of the meeting.
However, records show that neither the cost reduction measures were vetted by Egis France, nor studied by IIT-Bombay.
Sources in the Public Works Department (PWD) said Egis India was appointed the PMC for the project based on its parent company’s prior experience with such work.
In addition, the records reveal that officials from the PWD insisted that the contract agreement should be vetted by Egis France. This, too, was not done. The contract agreement for the project was signed by the PWD and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) on June 28.
In December last year, the government decided to go in for cost optimisation measures to reduce the total cost of the project, which was Rs 3,826 crore — originally quoted by L&T.
Its cost-cutting measures included changes in design, deletion of items and phasing of work to reduce the cost to Rs 2,500 crore.
Officials from the PWD defended skipping the process of vetting by the expert agencies on the ground that the state government’s approval was already in place. “For us, Egis India has submitted the cost optimisation measures and Egis India is a fully owned subsidiary of Egis France. So, we don’t know whether they have got it vetted from Egis France. Egis India would know about that,” said Manoj Saunik, the principal secretary of the PWD. Egis India did not respond to emailed queries sent on October 15.
Another official from the PWD admitted that IIT Bombay’s certification was indeed suggested by the committee as a technical re-assessment. “We will now get the detailed engineering designs from the contractor and get those assessed by IIT,” said the official.
On October 15, The Indian Express reported that though the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial project is yet to get the nod for its revised design from a technical panel, the PWD of the Maharashtra government has asked (L&T), contractor for the project, to start work from October 19. L&T is likely to start work on October 24, sources said.
The project, a flagship programme of the BJP-led government in the state, saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi lay the foundation stone for the memorial and a ‘jal poojan’ in December 2016. It entails building an equestrian statue of warrior king Shivaji Maharaj on a submerged rocky outcrop off Mumbai’s Backbay area. The location is about 2.4 km from Nariman Point, on a reclaimed island.
The statue is to be cast in bronze and will stand atop a pedestal designed as a multistorey structure.