Flora Fountain renovation embroils in controversy

FPJ BureauUpdated: Friday, May 31, 2019, 05:35 PM IST
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Mumbai : Amid opposition and controversy, a proposal for the renovation of South Mumbai’s iconic Flora Fountain was passed in the BMC’s standing committee on Wednesday. However, corporators objected to the proposal being given to INTACH, without following the customary procedure of inviting tenders through an advertisement.

INTACH is the company that conducted the restoration of the Bhau Daji Lad museum, and that is also associated with the director of the museum, Tasneem Mehta, who has a long standing unresolved feud with the civic body.

As per the proposal, the renovation of the fountain will be carried out in two phases at the cost of Rs 2.35 crore.

While the second phase will actually restore the Fountain structure, the first phase involves installation of stainless steel benches around the fountain, enhancing the lighting arrangement, repair of existing water sprinklers and restoration of the garden around the fountain.

Apart from expressing their objection to the digression from procedure, members of the standing committee also raised the question of ‘excessive’ delay of five years that the proposal faced, before being passed on Wednesday.

Sandeep Deshpande, MNS corporator said, “The administration merely called the organization maintaining the museum and gave them the contract for Flora Fountain as well. Why have we not followed procedure, despite a lapse of five years.“

Corporators across party lines backed Deshpande in his opposition to the administration‘s decision, including Shiv Sena and BJP corporators.

However, additional municipal commissioner, Pallavi Darade said that delay happened from the side of the Heritage conservation committee as the proposal was pending with them for over two years. The BMC hd to make changes in the proposal, as suggested by the heritage committee. Darade said, “There were two application s for this proposal – INTACH and Vastu Sanghralaya. Only INTACH had a conservationist on the team, hence we took this decision.”

The Flora Fountain is a grade I heritage site constructed in 1864 at the cost of Rs 47,000. It is surmounted with the Roman Goddess Flora in stone. The Flora Fountain garden was later added with a stone sculptor of two torch bearing martyrs in 1960, and renamed Hutatma Chowk.

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