MUMBAI: A panel, headed by ruling NDA constituent Shiv Sena's President Uddhav Thackeray, has reportedly bypassed the Maharashtra government to select a prominent architect for the planned Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial, a RTI reply has revealed.
Mumbai-based Right To Information activist Anil Galgali had written to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) seeking details of the memorial coming up in the prime sea-facing plot at Shivaji Park in Dadar, which was earlier used as the city Mayor's official residence.
"As per the RTI reply, the 9-member Balasahab Thackeray Memorial Committee (BTMC), headed by Thackeray, has gone ahead and appointed well-known firm, Abha Narain Lamba and Associates as Architect and Project Manager for the Rs 100 crore memorial, keeping the MMRDA in the dark," he said.
Galgali said that ideally, this critical position should have been advertised and global tenders sought for designing the landmark monument for which the land allocation and construction costs are being borne by the state government.
BTMC Chairman Uddhav Thackeray wrote to the MMRDA Commissioner on March 1 that Lamba and Associates has been appointed to prepare the detailed plan, budget estimates and tender process for the memorial, right up to the completion of the project, he added.
"It says a contract has already been signed with the architect's firm and this procedure was conducted in a transparent manner, as per government rules. The fact still remains that we lost a golden opportunity for a global competition to design the landmark," Galgali said.
The RTI activist said he has written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, seeking to know why an international competition was not considered for the monument which would be dedicated to the Shiv Sena founder, Bal Thackeray, who passed away here on November 17, 2012.
Besides Uddhav Thackeray as the Chairman, the BTMC includes Maharashtra Minister Subhash Desai as Member-Secretary, Aditya Thackeray, Shashikant Prabhu and BJP MP Poonam Mahajan as Members, while the state Chief Secretary, Urban Development Secretary, Principal Secretary, Law & Judiciary, and BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner are ex-officio members.