Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and his deputy, Ajit Pawar on Monday said the redevelopment of Chaityabhoomi will not be stalled for want of funds.
Chavan and Pawar said this on Monday when they visited Chaityabhoomi to pay respects to Dalit icon, BR Ambedkar, on his 54th death anniversary. Both flew in from Nagpur but visited the place separately.
The municipal corporation is implementing the Rs 21-crore Chaityabhoomi beautification and redevelopment project, announced in 2001, in phases.
Government officials said the project has been delayed because it lies in coastal regulatory zones I and II and needs environmental clearance from the Centre.
“As finance minister, I can assure you that we will not be lacking in finances for this project. We will ensure environmental concerns also don’t come in the way,’’ said Pawar.
Chavan also said funds will not be a problem.
Despite assurances from the state government’s top leadership, the progress of the project has been slow. Phase II and III got a nod from the state’s coastal body in May this year, three years after the first phase.
The Union environment ministry has rejected the main feature of the project — an elevated pathway leading to the stupa.
“The environment ministry sent the proposal back in September. We are yet to decide on it,’’ a government official said requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The second phase includes building a 20-metre elevated walkway parallel to the shore and jutting into the sea, reconstructing the stupa to make it five storeys high, and building a meditation pavilion.
This project, aimed at creating a grand memorial for Ambedkar and providing amenities to lakhs of Dalits who visit every December 6, is seen as the state leadership’s commitment to Dalits.
“Both, Chavan and Pawar, will ensure the project is completed soon and definitely before the civic polls in 2012,’’ a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) functionary said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The city has a significant Dalit population in pockets such as Ghatkopar, Chembur, Worli, Kanjurmarg and the Congress and NCP will woo this vote bank during the civic polls. Dalit votes, estimated at 13 per cent in the state, have always been fractured because of the absence of a consolidated leadership.