Besides its ‘adopt a heritage’ scheme that sparked controversy with the opposition parties accusing the government of leasing out monuments to private parties, the government has also been working on inviting consulting, design and landscaping firms for ‘development of iconic tourism sites’ in India under the Swadesh darshan scheme. Consulting firms, architects, design and landscaping companies are expected to bid in consortiums to help develop the areas around the top 12 historical monuments like the Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, Kaziranga National Park, Mahabalipuram, Bodh Gaya, Somnath temple and Ajanta and Ellora to make them ‘world class’.
The government has finished the first round of stakeholder consultations and a pre-bid meeting for the project was held last month. As per the minutes of the meeting released by the ministry of tourism, queries have been received from companies like KPMG Advisory, Deloitte, CP Kukreja Associates, Aga Khan Trust for Culture, ANB Consultants, Alia Consulting Solutions, financial consultancy firm Darashaw, Jones Lang LaSalle Property Consultants (India), INI Design Studio (Formerly Stantec Consulting), Colliers International, AS Design Consultants and LEA Associates.
“We have already finished the first round of stakeholder consultations. The emphasis is to make these 12 destinations world class. The bids can come from a consortium of architects, consultants, design, landscaping and marketing firms as we need a multidisciplinary approach,” said an official familiar with the developments while another official added: “The (bidders) will be the service providers. The project will be funded by the government. They will only advise on what needs to be done and they need to bid in order to be considered eligible. The implementation will be done by the central and state governments.”
As per the tender description released by the ministry, the applicant /lead member (in case of a consortium) should have undertaken consultancy work or in operations, over the past 10 years. The lead member should have received a consultancy fee of at least Rs 4 crore each from two projects of similar experience and should have relevant experience in undertaking projects of tourism master planning/ community-based planning/ feasibility studies/architectural design.
The applicant/lead member should also have a minimum of Rs 25 crore as an average turnover from tourism master planning/ community-based planning/ feasibility study/ architectural design/ DPR preparation during each of the three (2014-15, 2015-16, 2017-18) financial years.
But, some firms expressed their reservations on the criteria.
“The kind of conditions are such that no Indian architecture firm may qualify. We are expected to have prior experience in such projects. But there were no such projects commissioned by the ministry before. 80% of the eligibility criteria is from a technical score that is similar projects and 20% is based on the professional fee that we will quote. It is called the Quality and Cost Based Selection (QCBS).
In this cases, the criteria of quality that the company should have carried, our iconic tourism projects are completely skewed. Some of the other clarifications on the kind of work that will need to be undertaken are also awaited,” said Dikshu C Kukreja, who owns CP Kukreja Associates. Chains like Deloitte declined to comment.