Four years after the woman architect at the centre of the alleged illegal snooping row visited Bhavnagar to seek a stake in a project for a workers' housing colony at Alang ship recycling yard, the project is all set to begin without her. The Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and Ship Recycling Industries Association of India (SRIA) are jointly coming up with a residential colony for workers employed in ship re-cycling industry at Alang-Sosiya yard, the largest ship-breaking yard of the world, in Bhavnagar. The project involves construction of a three-storey building with seven dormitory blocks. Each block will have space to accommodate around 144 persons. In all, the colony will accommodate 1,008 persons, GMB officers said.
The project is worth Rs 22.8 crore. The tendering was done in June this year. Vadodara-based Kismatrai Chunilal Patel Construction has been awarded Rs 19 crore-contract for civil work and related facilities. Similarly, Scarlett Designs, an Ahmedabad-based design firm, has won the bid for providing architectural design for the project at approximately Rs 23 lakh.
The woman architect was eyeing this project during her visit to Bhavnagar in 2009. No new project has come up at Alang in the last one decade. But GMB officers said that the housing colony has been under consideration for at least five-seven years.
"The proposal has been there for many years. But it took final shape only in the last one year. After completing tendering, we are in the process of issuing work orders," a GMB officer in Gandhinagar confirmed.
Suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, who was then posted as Municipal Commissioner of Bhavnagar, said the woman visited him in May 2009. "She came and told me that she had come from (state) secretariat and was looking for some projects. I suggested the restoration project of Mani Mandir in Morbi (then in Rajkot district). But she said the restoration project would take long time. She wanted some port-related project, take her money and go away," Sharma told The Indian Express over phone.
Sharma, who himself was allegedly target of the same surveillance in August-September 2009, said that the architect wanted to visit Alang and that he had made transport arrangements for her. "However, then nothing materialised and no project was undertaken," Sharma said. Incidentally, Sharma was also in-charge managing director of Alcock Ashdown (Gujarat ) Limited, a Gujarat government-owned shipbuilding company having its yards at Bhavnagar port and Chanch in Amreli district.
The officer and the architect had come in contact in Bhuj in 2003 during the post-earthquake restoration in the city. The architect had conceptualised and designed Hill Garden in Bhuj. Sharma claims he had introduced her to Chief Minister Narendra Modi at a function to inaugurate the garden in 2004.
Months after her visit to Bhavnagar, Sharma was arrested by police in January 2010 for alleged corruption in Bhuj rebuilding projects.
Scarlett Designs said the firm and the project had nothing to do with the woman architect. "No woman architect has ever worked with our firm," said Rajesh Valmiki, senior architect and head of the team working on Alang project.
Source: Indian express. 29 November 2013