Mumbai: Cost of Ambedkar memorial rises to Rs 1,000 crore

Sandeep Ashar
mumbai news, mumbai city news, maharashtra news, Ambedkar memorial, MMRDA, indian express news

Due to the cost escalation, the MMRDA has approached the state government to give fresh approval for the project. “The Cabinet will have to approve the revised administrative cost,” an official said.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) will now have to spend nearly Rs 1,000 crore to build the ambitious Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mills in Dadar. This is a considerable rise from the earlier estimate of Rs 709 crore in December 2017.

Delays in the implementation of the project and the Maharashtra government’s decision to increase the statue’s height and modify the overall design has led to the cost escalation, said sources. In 2012, when the memorial project was first conceptualised, the cost of the entire project was estimated at about Rs 425 crore.

While the state government had earlier planned to build a 350-ft statue of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, it has now decided that the statue will be 450-ft tall. Sources said the new Thackeray government has also suggested more improvements to the memorial’s design. Besides the statue, the design of the memorial, which is set to come up on 12 acres of land at the erstwhile mill, includes a library, a replica of the historic Chavdar pond in Raigad, a number of viewing points and a parking lot.

Due to the cost escalation, the MMRDA has approached the state government to give fresh approval for the project. “The Cabinet will have to approve the revised administrative cost,” an official said.

Two previous attempts at tendering the construction work were aborted after only one company, the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, bid for the project.

Meanwhile, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Cabinet is also expected to undo a change introduced by the previous Devendra Fadnavis government in the electoral ward system in municipalities. To firm up its hold on urban local bodies across Maharashtra, the Fadnavis government had in 2017, introduced a multi-member ward system in the 245 municipal councils as well as the municipal corporations with the exception of the Mumbai municipality. A proposal to revert to a single-ward system in councils will likely be taken up by the Cabinet Wednesday. Sources said that it was also discussed informally during the last Cabinet meeting, but a decision was deferred after some senior ministers spoke out against the reversal.

The Thackeray government also has plans to discontinue direct elections of presidents for the municipal councils, which had brought a lot of success to the BJP in local body polls, said sources. In May 2016, the Fadnavis government had introduced direct elections. The Common Minimum Programme, drawn up by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress before coming together to come to power, had mentioned a plan to discontinue the direct election model.