The Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial Project that is slated to be built off Mumbai’s coast has run into controversy yet again. The Council of Architecture, the apex professional body of all architects, has asked the state government to pay Rs6 crore to the Mumbai-based firm Team One Architects India Pvt Ltd for failing to sign an “execution agreement” with it on time.
Though Team One Architects’ design for the mammoth project was selected in 2009 after inviting global bids, over the past four years, during which Ashok Chavan was replaced as chief minister by Prithviraj Chavan, the government has not taken the matter forward. The proposed site is 1.5km from Marine Drive and was selected by a committee of experts.
After continuously, but futilely, following up the matter with the government, the firm lodged a complaint with the Council, which is
authorised to resolve professional issues and can issue directions to concerned authorities.
The Council asked the state government to either allot the prestigious sea project to the firm or give them 1% of the total cost of the project as co pensation. Since the estimated cost of the project was placed at Rs600 crore in 2009, the architectural firm is entitled to Rs6 crore, the Council observed.
Sources say this is a big jolt to the state government as it was planning to float global-level competition to invite fresh designs for the ambitious project.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has been maintaining that the government is committed to the project. Meanwhile, it has also been indicated that the project will be launched before the Lok Sabha elections and that the Congress is planning to draw political mileage from the project.
However, it is not clear why the earlier design was not acceptable to the Prithviraj Chavan government even though it was approved by the Ashok Chavan ministry in 2009. The proposed site is 1.5kms away from Marine Drive and was selected by a committee of experts.
When dna contacted the state chief secretary JK Banthia, he said he not aware of the penalty imposed on the government by the Council. However, sources in the government said that the decision to invite fresh bids was nothing but a sheer waste of time and that the delay will push the cost of the project further.
Bharat Yamsanwar, managing director of Team One Architects, refused to comment on the controversy. However, sources in Team One Architects told dna, “We worked hard and spent a huge sum to prepare a world class Shivaji project design. It was a dream project.
Our entire team was emotionally involved in this project. But the state government is not keen on signing the execution agreement. This delay irked us and compelled us to complain to the Council of Architecture for justice,” a company official explained.