Work on Shivaji memorial stopped: Maharashtra govt will present its case, try to get SC order revoked

Vishwas Waghmode
Mete met with officials from PWD as well as law and judiciary and environment departments and others to discuss the SC order on Wednesday.

A DAY after the PWD asked the contractor to stop work of Shivaji memorial, Vinayak Mete, chairman of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial Project Implementation, Monitoring and Co-ordination Committee, said on Wednesday that the government will make attempts to revoke the stop work order of the Supreme Court.

Mete met with officials from PWD as well as law and judiciary and environment departments and others to discuss the SC order on Wednesday. "Since this is a special project and nobody is affected by it, public hearing is exempted for the project. We will bring this to the notice of the SC. The PWD will appoint a senior counsel to present the state government's case before the SC," said Mete.

On January 11, the SC, hearing a special leave petition, had orally asked the state not to proceed with the construction of the memorial and also issued a notice seeking the state's response. Following the directions, the PWD on Tuesday had asked the contractor of the project to stop work with the immediate effect.

The petition in SC has been filed by Conservation Action Trust, challenging the Bombay High Court's decision to not grant a stay on the project. The CAT, in its petition before the HC, had objected to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change exempting the public hearing process for the project through a notification in February 2015.

Mete blamed the negligence of the officials for the SC issuing a stop work order. Senior PWD officials should coordinate in preparing the counter affidavit to be submitted in the SC, he added.

Sources said that the issue of whether to make any payment to the contractor as a "mobilisation advance" was also discussed in the meeting. "The officials of the law and judiciary department said that no payment should be made due to the stop work order of the SC," said an official. As per the contract agreement, the mobilisation advance has been pegged at Rs 144 crore - five per cent of the total contract cost of Rs 2,890 crore. The memorial - 212 m in height, including a 123.2-m statue standing atop an 88.8-m pedestal - is a flagship project of the BJP-led government in the state.