Mumbai: The state government has ordered an enquiry into the tendering process for the construction of the Shiv Smarak, a mid-sea memorial to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, proposed by the former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government.
At a media briefing, Congress Maharashtra unit general secretary and spokesperson Sachin Sawant informed that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has threatened strict action against those found guilty. Sawant also informed, the construction on the memorial will be resumed only after completion of the enquiry.
"The Maha Vikas Aghadi strictly stands against corruption. Thus, anyone found guilty will face consequences," said Sawant.
Earlier, ahead of the assembly poll elections, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), had alleged corruption in the tendering process of the statue.
“The previous government had failed to act in an impartial manner and had awarded the contract to the private entity, Larson and Toubro (L&T), one of the bidders for the project,” said Sawant.
Sawant further stated, auditors have revealed that though the estimated cost of building the Smarak was Rs 2,692 crore, the government of Maharashtra had approved Rs 3,643 crore. Further, Sawant stated, technical assumptions were not taken into consideration before the execution of the work.
“L&T was the lowest bidder for the tender, thus the government negotiated with them and brought down the project cost to Rs 2,500 crore, which was in violation of the guidelines set up by the Central Vigilance Commission that tender values cannot be negotiated,” Sawant informed.
To reduce the cost of the project, changes were made in the design of the statue. The overall height of the memorial was kept the same, at 121.2 metres, but the height of the statue was reduced to 75.7 metres and the height of the sword was increased to 45.5 metres. Even the reclaimed area was reduced from 15.6 hectares to 12.8 hectares, of which only 6.8 hectares were going to be used for developing the Smarak in the first phase, Sawant said.
“The technical feasibility issues have been totally ignored," he said. "What was even more surprising, the revised proposal was approved by CM Devendra Fadnavis on Februray 28, 2018, and the revised proposal was studied in just one day by L&T, who wrote back to the CM on March 1, 2018,” added Sawant.
Also, Sawant informed, the agreement was between L&T and the government. But after the agreement, a senior divisional engineer raised objections to the project, claiming the engineers and technical staff were kept in the dark on a number of issues involving the project.