The BJP-led state government plans to soon conduct a bhoomipujan ceremony for the multi-crore Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial in the Arabian Sea in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said all the necessary clearances for the ambitious mid-sea memorial have been received and the government can lay the foundation stone for the project. “All 12 clearances required for the project including those from the environment ministry, defence, coast guard and Navy have been taken. We will soon arrange a bhoomipujan for the project inviting the PM,” Fadnavis said.
The project was originally conceived in the 1980s and has been a talking point for all political parties ever since. In the backdrop of the Maratha protests, the state is now racing ahead with the project, aiming to conduct a bhoomipujan next month before the model code of conduct comes into force for the Mumbai civic polls. Modi is scheduled to visit Mumbai on December 24 to lay the foundation stone for two Metro rail projects.
The government recently invited bids for the first phase of the construction of the ambitious memorial, entirely estimated to cost Rs 3,600 crore.
The CM’s assurance on the memorial of the 17th century Maratha warrior king comes close on the heels of the state government deciding to change the names of Mumbai’s airport and terminus to ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport’ and ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus,’ adding the word ‘Maharaj’ in both.
While the move was aimed at appeasing the angry Maratha community, it has drawn sharp criticism from a certain section of the population, saying the name change, just like the memorial will lead to wasteful expenditure at a time when the state is grappling with financial distress.
“We are here today because of the blessings of our Maharaj. Does anyone ask how much one is spending on one’s father? Does anyone ask how much one’s father eats? There are some people who are raising questions about why we are incurring so much expenditure,” said Fadnavis.
The entire project is proposed to come up on a 13.07-hectare rocky outcrop in the Arabian Sea, of which the state will develop 7.01 hectare in the first phase to cater to 10,000 visitors a day and the rest in the second phase to accommodate an additional 15,000 visitors a day. The memorial is touted to have the world’s tallest statue at 192m.