With a season full of civic and rural elections, including polls to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), close at hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Maharashtra government cleared the decks for a third memorial in a row — this one for Dr BR Ambedkar.
The state government published a draft notification to reserve 2.03 hectares falling under the ecologically-sensitive Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) for the grand memorial.
Earlier this month, the state government issued an ordinance for the sea-facing mayor’s bungalow near Shivaji Park to be formally set aside for a memorial for former Shiv Sena chief the late Bal Thackeray, looking to earn the goodwill of thousands of Shiv Sainiks across Mumbai.
Prior to that, last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the foundation stone for a Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial in the Arabian Sea to soothe an irate Maratha community after a wave of state-wide protests last year.
The Ambedkar memorial, estimated to cost Rs425 crore, will come up on Mumbai’s sea-front at Indu Mills in Dadar, a stone’s throw from Chaityabhoomi where his ashes were interred. It will be built over an area of 4.84 hectare. “Of the 4.84 hectare, the state government has already reserved 2.81 hectare that does not fall under CRZ for the memorial. The Union environment ministry recently issued a notification with amendments to the CRZ notification regarding construction of the Ambedkar memorial. With the environment ministry’s go-ahead, we have decided to set aside the remaining area falling under CRZ for the memorial too,” an official from the state urban development department said.
The decision will, however, first be subject to suggestions and objections from the public before the state issues a final notification. Also, despite the entire area now being reserved for the memorial, the state government will not be able to proceed with any work until the physical hand over of the plot, which housed a mill that is now defunct, from the Union textiles ministry to the Maharashtra government.
Although the Union cabinet approved the transfer in August last year in exchange of Transfer of Development Rights (TDR), the National Textile Corporation is yet to actually give possession.
A state government official said, “The handover is stuck in the modalities of differences between two Acts. As per the Sick Textiles Undertakings (Nationalisation) Amendment Act, the Centre wants to receive the compensation before releasing the plot, whereas the state’s TDR policy mandates transfer of land first before generating TDR on it. The technicalities will be sorted out soon.”