Keen as ever on grandiose projects that do little for the common man, the Maharashtra government on Thursday relaxed basic norms for bidders seeking to build the so-called Iconic Tower at Wadala in Mumbai, which will be the seventh tallest building in the world and the largest in terms of space.
Work on the Rs4,000-crore, 531 metre tall tower is slated to start in October. It will boast 101 storeys and a built-up area of 600 crore sq ft, the biggest among skyscrapers across the world.
Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad said permissions should be available shortly for the project. ''The building will generate Rs2,000 crore in revenue through rent, which will go towards other development projects in the region,'' claimed Gaikwad.
Speaking soon after a pre-bid meeting with companies interested in developing the project, Gaikwad said the state had extended the last date for submissions for the pre-qualification bids to 31 July.
Twelve prospective developers attended the pre-qualification bid meeting, including Reliance Infrastructure, Tata Realty and Infrastructure, Scomi, Shapurji Pallonji, IL&FS Transportation Networks, Pratibha Industries, Skylark Build, Akruti City, Som Enterprises, and financial services provider Indiabulls.
"The pre-qualification bids will be followed by technical and financial bids. We should be able to begin work on the project in October and it will take four to five years to be completed on a design, build, own, operate and transfer basis,'' Gaikwad said.
"The building will have several hotels in it,'' said Mumbai's deputy chief of transport planning R Ramanna. ''About 30 floors of the building will have seven-star hotels and luxury apartments. For the first 60 floors, there will be high-speed elevators while the rest of the building will have normal elevators.''
While the city reels under power, water, and other infrastructure shortcomings, Ramanna said the iconic tower would be centrally air-conditioned, have electronic circuits, elevated transport and security, and the tenants would be allowed to change the decor according their needs.
On the height of the building being a cause for concern for aviation safety, Gaikwad said experts have assured that it would not be a problem. "We will put up the case before the union minister for civil aviation, Praful Patel. Chief minister Ashok Chavan will also write a request for the project's clearance,'' he said.
According to a Mid-Day report, the civil aviation ministry has already agreed to allow raising the height of the structure to 500 metres and dedicate the area as a no-flying zone.
MMRDA joint commissioner Ashwini Bhide claimed that Wadala would become a well-connected point with the new tower and infrastructure. The area would be connected to other parts of the city by monorail and metro rail lines, while the trans-harbour project would link Wadala with Navi Mumbai.
Bhide added that the Eastern Expressway would also be in close proximity; and that Rs40 crore has been allotted for paving roads around the project site. "The shape of the building will depend on the developer's design,'' said Bhide, adding that the final design might have two towers instead of one.
The tower or towers will come up on a 14-hectare plot owned by the MMRDA, which will also be the project implementing authority and award the construction work to the successful bidder.
Earlier, one of the eligibility criteria for the developers included that they should have track record of constructing a building of at least 400 meters height in the last five years. This condition has been relaxed to 300 meters, Gaikwad said.
The iconic structure would normally have come under the flying zone, where buildings can't be more than 50 m tall. Now, with the permission from the civil aviation ministry for the skyscraper, airplanes will have to change their route.