Yet another move of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government of Maharashtra led by Uddhav Thackeray has caught the public eye, as the cost of constructing an MLA Hostel at Mumbai’s Nariman Point has reportedly shot up from Rs. 400 crores to Rs. 900 crores in a matter of three years. In a rather unexpected development, bound to cost the state exchequer an additional Rs. 500 crores, the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government had in December 2020 handed over the construction of the Manora Aamdar Niwas building at Nariman Point in Mumbai to the State Public Works Department (PWD), for reasons best known to it.
In the latest news, the fund allocation for the construction of the MLA Hostel has been raised by Rs. 500 crores which in turn has raised many eyebrows. For such Rs. 900 crore rupees to be flowing in for the construction of an MLA Hostel sounds astronomical, if not outrightly bizarre. In 2017, construction major NBCC India Ltd had bagged the then Rs. 400 crore contract to reconstruct Manora Aamdar Niwas. In a BSE filing, NBCC said that the Empowered Committee for reconstruction work of Manora Aamdar Niwas in its meeting dated September 12 decided that reconstruction work in the Nariman Point area be given to NBCC Ltd amounting to Rs. 400 crores.
Now, however, as the state of Maharashtra struggles to cope with a devastating second wave of Covid-19, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government has floated tender seeking bids for the redevelopment of the MLA hostel. The magnanimous tender has been floated at a time when the state faces a financial crunch. Speaking to the Times of India, a PWD official said that the cost of the project might escalate further. The electrical work alone is estimated to cost ₹250 crores, he added.
The decision to hand over the construction of the MLA Hostel from the NBCC to the state PWD was taken by a high-power committee comprising the Chief Minister, Chairman of the legislative council and Speaker of the legislative assembly. Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant said, “Agency NBCC appointed by them demolished structure. Due to delay govt has already lost more than ₹700 crore – as every month around ₹3.5 crore are being paid to MLAs, even BJP MLAs are paid ₹1 lakh each.”
Sawant was referring to the decision of the former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government of Maharashtra, which had awarded the tender to NBCC at a cost of ₹400 crores. The snide remark came after BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar on Thursday tweeted, “Rs 900 crore tender has been issued by the Thackeray government for the MLA hostel. This seems to have slipped the eyes of those advising the Prime Minister to focus on vaccination rather than the construction of the parliament complex. Tell the Chief Minister to focus on corona pandemic. He will get the percentage there as well.”
MLA हॉस्टेलच्या बांधकामासाठी ठाकरे सरकारने 900 कोटीचे टेंडर काढले आहे. संसदभवनापेक्षा लसीकरणाकडे लक्ष द्या, असा पंतप्रधानांना सल्ला देणाऱ्या
@RRPSpeaks यांच्या नजरेतून हे सुटलेलं दिसतंय. सांगा जरा मुख्यमंत्र्यांना कोरोनाकडे लक्ष द्या म्हणावं. टक्केवारी काय तिथेही मिळेल त्यांना. pic.twitter.com/TvegHPXSwL
— Atul Bhatkhalkar (@BhatkhalkarA) May 6, 2021
The proposed MLA hostel, comprising of two towers, is expected to be completed in three years. If built, the hostel will comprise one 42-storey tower and another 28-storey tower with 675 flats in total. The multi-crore project includes the construction of gymnasiums on the terrace, meeting and conference halls, waiting halls for MLA visitors, a canteen, a grocery, a salon, shops, a dispensary and a theatre.
The skyrocketing cost escalation of the proposed MLA Hostel by the Uddhav government has shocked many spectators, as opposition parties now flounder around to look for excuses to justify their exorbitant money-making tactics.