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State govt reduces the length of Shivaji’s sculpture, in a bid to save money

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The Maharashtra government has altered the design of the proposed statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji in the sea off Mumbai in an effort to bring down the mounting cost of its construction.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of the Chhatrapati Shivaji in the sea off Mumbai and a ‘jal poojan’ in December 2016.

As per the new design, the height of the warrior king is now 7.5 metres shorter than originally proposed, although the sword he wields will be taller than in the original design.

The BJP-led government in the state had originally proposed a statue standing 121.2 metres tall, including the sculpture of the king on his horse together measuring 83.2 metres, and a 38-metre sword.  Designed as a multi-storey structure, the statue is to be cast in bronze on a pedestal, standing 88.8 metres tall. In total, the project height was 210 metres.

To maintain the aesthetic view of the statue, the original base length of the sculpture was proportionally reduced. This has resulted in reduced anticipated use of bronze, tertiary steel elements and armature. Overall, these changes and a few others have led to a cost reduction of Rs 338.94 crore.

Other than the statue, marine work is also hugely involved which comprises of breakwaters, island reclamation, a sea wall designed to appear as a historic fort wall, a passenger jetty, etc. The pedestal will house various visitor management spaces, a museum and art gallery, food court and viewing deck.

On March 1 this year, the state government issued a Letter of Acceptance to L&T for the project worth Rs 2,500 crore plus GST, taking the total project cost to Rs 2,800 crore. In December last year, the government decided to go in for cost optimisation measures to reduce the total project cost from Rs 3,826 crore, the sum originally quoted by L&T. Various cost optimisation measures have led to cost reduction to the tune of Rs 1,026 crore.

Difference between the original design and the new design
Difference between the original design and the new design

Meanwhile, opposition parties had alleged the state government had reduced the height of the Shivaji statute in order to cut costs, while increasing the pedestal height, a week after the government had issued a Letter of Acceptance for the project to Larsen & Toubro, . State government denied the allegations, maintaining that the height of the statue remains 121.2 metres. “I have written to the consultant, the contractor and PWD officials asking for a presentation on how cost reduction has been achieved,” said Vinayak Mete, legislator and Chairman of the Project Implementation and Monitoring Committee for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial.

Meanwhile, the state government last month decided that the total height of the project would be 212 metres, making it the tallest statue in the world. The equestrian sculpture portion will now be made proportionately taller by 2 metres and a proposal submitted to the MoEF for clearances, said sources in the PWD.

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Apart from cost reduction in the statue itself, cost has also been reduced in other ways. The government has, for example, deferred the first year operation and maintenance and training cost of the project. Some deleted items include a VIP jetty and a safe house for VIPs.