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Corruption, conflict of interest in Shivaji memorial project:


Press Trust of India Mumbai
The Congress-NCP on Monday alleged conflict of interest and corruption to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore under the garb of bringing down costs of the Shivaji Memorial being constructed off Mumbai's coast.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant and Mumbai president of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Nawab Malik claimed the state government accepted advice from a legal firm recommended by the project consultant, rather than going by the wisdom of its own law and judiciary department or the state advocate-general.
"The short listed contractor for the project, L&T, had submitted a Rs 3800 crore bid which the government brought down to Rs 2500 crore through negotiations. The audit department had raised objections over the negotiations and has sought a detailed inquiry," said Sawant.
"The government's base price for the tender was kept at Rs 2692.50 crore but L&T's bid was Rs 3826 crore, 42 per cent higher than the government's estimate," he said.
In this situation, the government should have called for fresh tenders, Sawant said, adding that the estimated price would be lesser by more than Rs 1000 crore after design changes.
Sawant pointed out that, instead of approaching the state's AG, project consultant Egis India Pvt Ltd had said it had appointed its own legal consultant to give opinion on the tender issue.
"A legal opinion from former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and retired SC Judge V N khare were found to be word to word same. And it looks like it was written by the same person," Sawant claimed.
Malik pointed out the report was verbally approved by the Law and Judiciary department immediately in the next meeting.
"What is even for serious is that after the Supreme Court gave oral stay on the project on January 11, 2019, it was Mukul Rohatgi who represented L&T in the matter before Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on the issue, which is a clear case of conflict of interest," claimed Malik.
He added that MLC Vinayak Mete, president of the committee overseeing the construction of the memorial, had also written a letter to CM Fadnavis making identical allegations.
"We don't know what has made him go silent suddenly on this issue," Malik said.
Mete, in his letter, said that while signing the agreement many important elements of the project were not included.
"...Also departmental officers were threatened with suspension or inquiry to get them to sign the agreement and work order of the project. The work order, which is usually issued once, in this was issued three times and so there must be an investigation in the entire process," Mete's letter said.

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First Published: Sep 30 2019 | 9:00 PM IST

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