By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, April 15:
While the 131 st birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Dr. B R Ambedkar was celebrated across the country on Thursday, the work on the Grand Ambedkar Memorial slated to come up in Dadar in central Mumbai has been delayed, and now it is expected to be completed only in March 2024.
The memorial is coming up on sprawling 12-acre land at the erstwhile Indu Mill premises.
Its main attraction will be a 25,000 sq ft stupa around a pond. The initial estimated cost of the project was Rs 425 crore. However, now it is shot to over Rs 1000 crore. The design involves 2.5 lakh square feet of construction work.
In response to a query by RTI activist Anil Galgali, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) stated that the work on the memorial has been extended and will be completed by March 2024. The expected cost of the memorial was Rs 763.05 crore as per the original concept. But now as per the revised concept, it will be Rs 1089.95.
Rs. 209.53 crore have been spent till November 23, 2021. The amount includes a mobilization advance of Rs. 31.65 crore and a project consultant fee of Rs. 12.68 crore. M/s Shapoorji Palonji are the contractors, while M/s Shashi Prabhu Associates and Design Associates INC are the Project Consultants. The contractor and other agencies have been able to complete 49 % work on the buildings and 6 % of the work on the footpaths.
The MMRDA was appointed as a Special Planning Authority by the Maharashtra Government for the development of the memorial in 2013. Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a plaque to mark the laying of the foundation stone on October 11, 2015.
However, there was a delay in transferring the land from the National Textile Corporation (under the union textile ministry) to the Maharashtra Government. The state government officials received the transfer of development rights of the 12.5 acres of land from the union textile ministry for Rs1,413 crore only in March 2017.
The work order was issued on February 9, 2018, and the work was expected to be completed in 36 months. But there was a delay in executing the project due to the contractors, Galgali said. However, it’s a fact that the work proceeded at a snail’s pace during the prolonged Covid-induced lockdown.
The MMRDA is executing the project as per the responsibilities laid down by the Government for the development of the Memorial. A 350 feet high bronze statue of Ambedkar placed on a pedestal of 100 feet height (total height of 450 feet), accessed by a spiral ramp is the main feature of the Memorial. The pedestal houses a dome in Buddhist Architectural style. 1000 capacity Auditorium, Exhibition Halls, Research Centre, Lecture Halls, Library, Conference Halls, Meditation Centre, Parikrama Path, Souvenir Shops, Waiting Room, Canteen, Administrative Office, Toilets, Landscaped area, Gardens, Parking, etc. form part of the Memorial, the MMRDA spokesman said.
The MMRDA now needs to take appropriate action to complete the project in an extended period. RTI activist Anil Galgali in the letters to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde, and MMRDA Commissioner has suggested that the work be expedited so that the memorial is ready by the fresh deadline.