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MMRDA in the dark on appointment of Architect and Project Manager, finds RTI

Saturday, June 15, 2019
By Philip Varghese

Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial

RTI activist has written a letter to Chief Minister on how an Architect and Project Manager for Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial was appointed by Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) which is a Maharashtra government body that has sanctioned a grant of Rs 100 Crores for Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial, has been kept in the dark on appointment of Architect and Project Manager for the upcoming memorial to be constructed in erstwhile 'Mayor Bungalow' at Shivaji Park.

The Nine-member Memorial Committe headed by Shiv Sena Party Chief Uddhav Thackeray has made these appointments, allegedly without consulting MMRDA, A Right to Information (RTI) enquiry by activist Anil Galgali has revealed this information who said that an opportunity for global competition for appointments of architects for designing this Mumbai landmark has thus been lost. The legality and practicality of this move has been questioned and the issue is being debated as to how can Uddhav Thackeray make these appointments without taking Maharashtra Government agencies in the loop, when the land allocation and construction cost are all being bourne by the state, asks Galgali.

Galgali had sought information from MMRDA on the functioning of the Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial, including the details of appointment of Architects and Project manager. Galgali was informed that the Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial Committee Chairman has appointed the Architect and Project Manager and they do not have any details on these appointments. Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial Chairman had written a letter to MMRDA Commissioner dated March 1, 2019 informing him that 'Abha Narain Lamba & Associates' has been appointed as Architects and Project Manager Consultants for preparing the detailed plan, budget estimates and tender process for the memorial, right upto the completion of the projected.

The letter mentioned that a contract has been signed with Abha Narain Lamba Associates and that this procedure was conducted in a transparent manner, following the Government rules as laid down by the Public Works Department (PWD). Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial has also requested MMRDA to pay it professional fees to Abha Narian Lamba & Associates.

A high powered committee under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary, Maharashtra vide Govt. order dated December 4, 2014 was formed to give its recommendations on the construction of the memorial. While Uddhav Thackeray had been appointed as Chairman of the Memorial committee, Minister Subhash Desai has been named as the Member Secretary. Poonam Mahajan, Aaditya Thackeray, Shashikant Prabhu are the members and Chief Secretary, Urban Development Secretary, Law and Judiciary Principal Secretary and BMC Commissioner are ex-officio members.

Anil Galgali has written to the Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis stating that while he had no intention to oppose the Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial in Memory of Balasaheb Thackeray, “I am pained that the architect and project manager have been appointed without holding a global competition for designing this landmark. MMRDA is well equipped in handling such projects and appointments by the memorial are not appropriate.”

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