Mumbai airport’s cost escalation: Shivaji statue in blame game

November 11th, 2011 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Nov 11 (IANS) A Mumbai legislator has protested the purported statement of a top official of builder GVK blaming a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji for the cost escalation of Mumbai Airport’s modernization programme.

In a statement, Congress legislator from Vile Parle Krishna Hegde has expressed “shock” over a reported statement by Isaac George, GVK’s chief financial officer, on the cost overrun of Rs.2,500 crore.

When contacted by IANS, a top official of Mumbai International Airport Ltd declined to comment on the issue, while there was no response from George’s office in Hyderabad.

George reportedly made the comments before a conference of analysts after the company’s second quarter results were announced Thursday.

When the project was awarded to GVK in 2006, it was estimated to cost Rs.5,800 crore, but due to time and cost over-runs, it was revised at over Rs.9,800 crore.

The cost escalation of around Rs.2,500 crore was attributed by George primarily to the delays in shifting the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji since it took 18 months to get all the approvals for it.

Accordingly, the project timelines have also been revised. While the renovated international section will be ready by August 2013, the domestic section will be ready by August 2014.

“The statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was installed there much before the GVK started working on the airport,” Hegde said in a strongly-worded statement here Friday.

He questioned why the project architect and the design team did not alter the plans to avoid the shifting of the statue.

Hegde said the statue had been inaugurated by former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray over a decade ago.

“The shifting of the statue (from its original location) has already hurt the sentiments of lakhs of people and I would request you to advise your officials not to make such ridiculous statements,” Hegde said.

He claimed that GVK, despite commitments, had failed to put up portraits of Chhatrapati Shivaji at both the airports.

“This forced me to come to your office and gift a portrait of the great Marathi king last Diwali to be put up there,” Hegde said.

He alleged that the actions and utterances made by GVK officials show that they have no respect for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and this kind of ‘mischievous’ statements should be stopped once for all and an apology should be tendered.

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