Unity slashes Mantralaya makeover bid by 15%

Diaries

Award of contract only after scrutiny by finance department.

The state government has managed to extract a better deal for Mantralaya makeover. Kishore Avarsekar & Associates-promoted Unity Infraprojects Ltd, which had emerged the lowest bidder with a cost estimate of Rs 163 crore, has now agreed to slash it by 15 per cent to Rs 138 crore. It is, however, still higher than the state estimate of Rs 110 crore.

After a fire gutted vast portions of Mantralaya on June 21, the government floated tenders for a substantial overhaul of the state secretariat in August. The bids were opened in October. Three companies submitted bids, with Unity Infrasture being the L1. The other two bidders were Larsen & Toubro (Rs 177 crore) and Shapoorji Pallonji (Rs 167 crore).

The government was in a fix over accepting Unity's bid since it was substantially higher over 48 per cent than its own estimate of Rs 110 crore. It requested the bidders to lower the cost. Chief Secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia's discussions with the companies did not yield results. In fact, the government even threatened to scrap the bidding process and call for new bids.

Unity's decision to cut the cost is likely to be considered favourably by the state government. "Right now it is a preferred bidder. The bid will be scrutinised by the finance department before the company is awarded the contract," a senior PWD official said.

In case Unity is awarded the project, it would mean that another government employee turned contractor will get a major tender from the state. Unity Infraprojects chief promoter Kishore K Avarsekar is a former PWD engineer who has worked with the BMC and is known to be close to politicians across parties.

Unity Infraprojects is a listed company and posted profits of Rs 103 crore over a Rs 1,978-crore turnover in 2011-12. Some of its major projects in the city include expansion of Terminal 1B of the international airport, remodelling of Ravindra Natya Mandir, construction of Millennium Business Park in Navi Mumbai and the pedestrian subway outside CST.

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