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Shivaji memorial bid points towards huge cost escalation

By Ians English

Mumbai, April 25: The Maharashtra PWD is learnt to have approved L&Ts bid to construct phase one of the ambitious Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial -- at a cost that is much higher than the estimate for the entire project.

Shivaji Maharaj

The L&T's bid, which will still need a final cabinet nod, is for Rs 3,826 crore for Phase 1 of the project, over 50 per cent higher than the state government's estimate of Rs 2,500 crore for the initial phase.

Public Works Department Minister Chandrakant Patil is in Mumbai for a cabinet meeting. However, he was not available for comments despite several attempts.

With the bids much higher than the estimates, sources indicated that the government may even decide to retender the project.

Sources also suggested that if the L&T bid is finally approved, it may not be in conformity with the Central Vigilance Commission's as well as the state's own bid evaluation guidelines.

Financial bids of only two firms were considered -- the other being the Afcons-Shapoorji joint venture which bid a whopping Rs 4,779 crore for Phase 1.

The guidelines say that there have to be at least three technically-qualified bids to open the financial bids for a project of this magnitude.

The PWD had invited bids for the construction of the memorial in the Arabian Sea - billed to be the world's tallest statue once built, at 192 metres - on an EPC basis (engineering, procurement, construction) and as many as 13 firms evinced interest.

The PWD engaged Egis as the consultant for the pre-bid stage. Egis is also a consultant for the 182-metre tall Statue of Unity of Sardar Patel that is to come up on a river island near Vadodara in Gujarat.

Incidentally, when first mooted by the erstwhile Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in 2009, the controversial project's cost was pegged at around Rs 260 crore.

The PWD has since estimated the project cost at Rs 3,600 crore, with the estimate for Phase 1 being Rs 2,500 crore and Rs 1,100 crore for Phase 2.

The L&T bid for just phase one is thus well over the overall project cost.

Sources in the PWD told IANS that only the cabinet could approve a project of this size.


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