Cong, NCP demand judicial probe into Shivaji statue

Cong, NCP demand judicial probe into Shivaji statue

File photo of the proposed Shivaji memorial

Citing irregularities, the Congress-NCP Opposition front in Maharashtra on Tuesday demanded a judicial probe into the ambitious project to construct the statue of legendary Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the Arabian Sea.

Once complete, the statue would be the tallest in the world.

Targetting the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP-Shiv Sena saffron alliance government, the Congress-NCP front said that despite giving proof of corruption against 21 ministers, the ministers were given a clean chit to maintain a clean image of the government.

"The corrupt and shameless BJP government has indulged in corruption even in the Shiv Smarak project," Maharashtra Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant and NCP Mumbai president and chief spokesperson Nawab Malik told a news conference.

They demanded a judicial probe and also said that they would take the matter to the Central Vigilance Commission.

The state government had promised a Shivaji memorial in the Arabian Sea and for which tenders were issued in 2017.

L&T had submitted a bid of Rs 3,826 crore for the project.

"As per the tender documents, the height of the memorial was to be 121.2 metres of which 83.2 metre was the statue and 37 metres the sword," they said.

The state government brought down the project cost to Rs 2,500 crore by negotiating with L&T which was in violation of the guidelines set by the CVC, which says that nobody can negotiate the tender value.

"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 metre, but the height of the statue was reduced to 75.7 metre and the height of the sword was increased to 45.5 metre. Even the reclaimed area was reduced from 15.6 Hectare to 12.8 Hectare of which only 6.8 Hectare was going to be used for developing the statue in first phase. The technical feasibility has been utterly ignored," a joint Congress-NCP statement said.

According to Sawant and Malik, what was even more surprising that the revised proposal was approved by Fadnavis on Februray 28, 2018.

After the approval, the public works department sent a letter to L&T for their approval.

L&T studied the revised proposal in just one day and gave it's approval on March 1, 2018. And on that very day, the chief minister handed over the acceptance letter to the company. Such a hurry in handing over the LOA says a lot.

The agreement for the project was done between L&T and the executive engineer of the department on 28 July, 2018.

But when the agreement was being done, a senior Divisional account officer raised his objections by writing an immediate handwritten dissent note, they alleged.