The state government has asked Rajiv Mishra, the principal of Sir JJ College of Architecture, to design the ambitious Rs200-crore memorial project of Chhatrapati Shivaji even though he does not have any expertise in this field.
The Shivaji memorial has been planned on the Arabian Sea five kilometres off Nariman Point.
When contacted, Mishra admitted that he has no experience in this area. “But we are preparing the sketches as the government has asked me to do so. Our design will be used temporarily.
They want the design urgently to submit it before the central environment and forest department for approval,” Mishra added.
In 2009, the government through a global competition had chosen Mumbai-based Team One Architects India Pvt Ltd to design the memorial. However, the work was not allotted to it on a flimsy ground.
“This project has been on the Congress-NCP election manifesto for the past 10 years. Now, since the election is approaching, the government needs to show its seriousness in pursuing this project. This is just a make-up exercise,” said another government official.
“Mishra and a bunch of his students even visited New York to study the architectural design of the Statue of Liberty. Actually, Mishra does not have any expertise in this field. It’s a shameful decision taken by the state government,” added the official. When this reporter went to see the work at Public Works Department office at Fort, students of Sir JJ College of Architecture were seen working on the sketches.
Team One Architects India Pvt Ltd. managing director Bharat Yamsanwar said that they have registered their complaint with the Council of Architecture about the government’s arbitrary decision. “This is injustice. We worked very hard and prepared the sketches. Out of 11 competing firms, our design was selected; but the work has not allotted to us,” he said. Meanwhile, the Council of Architecture has asked the government to pay Rs6 crore as compensation to them.
The statue is likely to be 309 ft tall. The whole complex envisages an imposing statue of Shivaji, a garden surrounding it, an open-air theatre, Shivaji’s belongings and other historical articles.