Every day many Mumbaikars experience the annoying wait inside a taxi or an auto caught in a traffic jam — you aren’t going anywhere, but the meter keeps moving up. Now compare this to the delayed infrastructure projects in the city. Not only do they inconvenience people and hold up important transitions, the burden on the exchequer becomes greater with every passing day.
A case in point is the government’s Mantralaya makeover plan. Procrastination by authorities has ensured that the lowest bid of Rs 163 crore received for repairs and renovation of the 1.55-lakh sq ft area of the three floors in the administrative headquarters of the state government is way more than the Rs 71.39 crore estimated expenditure for erecting a new building with an area of 1.85 lakh sq ft to take over from the old one.
The cost of repairs and renovation of three floors of Mantralaya, which were engulfed in a massive fire on June 21, has witnessed considerable escalation — from Rs 81.64 crore that was approved by the state cabinet in August, to Rs 110 crore when the bids were called.
But the lowest bid received for the project was 48 per cent more (Rs 163 crore), making the government’s job tricky.
The second lowest bid submitted by Shapoorji Pallonji was of Rs 167 cr, and the third lowest was of Rs 177 cr, submitted by Larsen & Toubro (L&T).
According to a senior official, had the government gone ahead with the three-phase plan of Mantralaya makeover that included construction of new building adjacent to existing one and complete renovation of the present structure, the cost would not have gone beyond Rs 100 crore.
The proposal (copy with MiD DAY) first mooted in 2001 — and pushed again in 2004 — reckoned that Rs 71.39 cr would be needed for construction of a new building with six floors.
It was expected to have 54 offices for ministers, separate offices for chief minister and his deputy, meeting halls for members of cabinet and an auditorium with capacity to accommodate 700 people.
Besides, the costs calculated also included those for an underground parking area, interior decorations and furniture, drainage and sewage system, electrification, fire-fighting equipment, power supply substation and central air-conditioning system, fee payable to BMC, payment to private architect, quality control, and emergency expenditure.
The proposal was discussed in a meeting chaired by the then deputy chief minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil who was also heading the state PWD. But, owing to lack of consensus among ministers the suggestion did not move further. And in 2008-09 the plan was revisited with Rs 325 crore as revised expected expenditure for Mantralaya’s makeover, which came into eye of storm because of differences between NCP and Congress.
Now, a committee headed by the state chief secretary is likely to hold discussions with the bidders to trim the quoted estimates.