The showpiece mid-sea Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial was originally conceived in the 1980s and has been a talking point for all political parties for every election ever since. Grappling with tension within the Maratha community, which considers the warrior king as its icon, and preparing for civic polls across the state, the BJP-led Maharashtra government is now racing ahead with the project. Here are five things to know about the proposed memorial:
1)The project involves building the world’s tallest statue, surpassing the height of New York’s Statue of Liberty and the under-construction Statue of Unity of Saradar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat. The entire memorial will be 210 metres tall, close to a 12-storey structure, built entirely in the sea on an islet of 15.96 hectare.
2)The memorial is estimated to cost Rs3,600 crore. Besides a statue in an equestrian pose, the state government will also build a library, an amphitheatre, an aquarium, an IMAX theatre to showcase short films on the Maratha warrior king, guest rooms, a helipad, a hospital, etc.
3) The government roped in design consultant EGIS India to draw up a plan for the memorial. Besides various facilities, architecturally, the memorial will bear the stamp of construction from the time of the Maratha empire. It will have replicas of the Tuljabhavani Temple, the entrance arch of the Raigad Fort, and forecourts modelled on the palaces and wadas, traditional residential structures.
4) The state government has invited tenders for the first phase of the memorial’s construction, estimated to cost approximately Rs2,500 crore. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will conduct a bhoomipujan for the memorial in the Arabian Sea on December 24 with water from rivers across Maharashtra and stones, soil and bricks from across 19 locations significant in the emperor’s life.
5) For access to the public, the state government is planning four jetties — Colaba’s Radio Club, NCPA at Nariman Point, Sagar Sangam near Nerul in Navi Mumbai. The first phase will cater to about 10,000 visitors a day, while the second phase will expand the holding capacity to another 15,000.