The family members of Dr BR Ambedkar and factions of the Republican Party of India (RPI) have demanded that the height of his statue at the Indu Mill memorial be raised and made taller than the Statue of Liberty and the proposed statue of king Shivaji in the Arabian sea.
Experts, however, are apprehensive about the increase in the height and said the original design may get badly disturbed.
After Anandraj Ambedkar, the great grandson of Dr Ambedkar and others raised objection to the cabinet-approved design submitted by noted architect Shashi Prabhu, the state government appointed a committee headed by social justice minister Rajkumar Badole to look into the suggestions.
The committee, after a couple of meetings, has admitted to increase the height of the statue from 140ft to 350ft and scrap the idea of the commemorative stupa, which was believed to add aesthetic value to the whole memorial. The changes are reportedly set to increase the cost of the project and also lead to cutting of trees to a large extent.
“Almost all the RPI leaders were insistent on the rise in the height of the statue, to which we have agreed. We are also dropping the idea of constructing the stupa, as it is already there at the Chaityabhoomi next door. The final decision will be taken before April 14, the birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar,” said Badole.
The experts and officers from the MMRDA, which is nodal agency for the project, are apprehensive about its reasonability after the changes that have been accepted by the government. “First, the height is not in proportion with the size of the plot (12.5 acres). It will be as tall as a 35-storeyed building and would not be visible from any part of the city, not even from the Bandra-Worli sea link, losing its appreciation space. The cost of the project is likely to go up substantially from Rs425 crore, besides the possible delay in completion. We will also have to fell about 60 trees,” said an MMRDA official.
The Statue of Liberty stands at 305 ft, while Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s statue in Gujarat, which is coming up on a 20,000 sqmt plot, will be 597-ft-tall and the 312ft Shivaji statue in the Arabian sea islet is proposed on 40 acres. Badole, however, said, “I don’t think this will raise the cost of the project. It is true that a few trees are needed to be cut, but we will replant them in multiplicity. I am sure the changes will make the project more attractive.”
Anandraj said his design will cost lesser than the one approved by the government. “With our design, which has been prepared by architect Saurabh Chatterjee, the project will cost Rs250 crore,” he said.