Marine Drive beautification project delayed again

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SummaryDifferences between Development authority and architect; MMRDA says firm is quoting high price.

The nine-year-old plan for Marine Drive beautification is stalled yet again, thanks to differences between the city’s development authority and the architect for the project. Earlier this year, the project was brought back on the table with the intention of calling bids for the execution at the earliest.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the nodal agency for the project, said the architect was quoting a fee that was considerably higher than what it had expected.

Ratan Batliboi Architects Pvt Ltd has designed the master plan for the makeover of Marine Drive.

UPS Madan, metropolitan commissioner at the MMRDA, said: “Earlier, the architect had quoted rates that were not acceptable. If we are going to use the designs of the architect currently in place without even calling for tenders, then the fees quoted should be reasonable.”

Madan said the architect has now shown willingness to negotiate and quoted a lower rate, but the MMRDA and the state government are yet to take a decision.

“If we find that the rate is too high, then it would be more feasible to call for tenders for designing the master plan to get the best rate,” he added.

Madan said it would not be appropriate to disclose the amount the architect has been quoting. Officials from the design firm were not available for comment.

Earlier, the MMRDA was planning to call for tenders to implement at least part of the project by the middle of this year. Besides sprucing up the promenade, the master plan has several features such as construction of cantilever viewing decks stretching into the Arabian Sea, restoration of the heritage Parsi Gate, widening of the road near Princess Street, setting up tourist kiosks, toilets, underground parking and signages.

The Marine Drive makeover plan was initiated in 2004. The first phase was implemented shortly thereafter, involving mainly creation of a tiled footpath, plant beds and a few bus shelters. The plan was relegated to the cold storage after the completion of the first phase in 2008. There was some resistance from a few residents for not having taken their views into consideration.

The beautification plan was brought back on the table in February when the state government’s empowered committee on Mumbai’s transformation, chaired by Chief Secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia, gave an in-principle nod for the project. The empowered committee consists of bureaucrats and private sector members.

manasi.phadke@expressindia.com

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