The much-awaited memorial for late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray is expected to become a reality very soon, as the state government has identified four sites in the central parts of the city, two of which are near Shivaji Park, where the leader’s mortal remains were consigned to flames two years ago. The two other shortlisted sites are located in Parel and Wadala respectively.
On Tuesday, a high-powered committee under chief secretary Swadhin Kshatriya decided to recommend the sites to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who will take a final decision, in consultation with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Being a heritage site and a public space, the Shivaji Park cannot be used to construct a permanent memorial, though a plaque on a small strip of landscaped garden 20 feet from the funeral site has stood in a corner of Shivaji Park for more than two years.
The demand for a memorial gained momentum in 2012, immediately after the leader’s death, when Sena workers rallied for many days, asking the government to give up a part of Shivaji Park – where no construction is allowed – for the memorial. But the Congress-led government did not budge, and Uddhav urged the sainiks to move out, promising them he would build a memorial befitting his father’s stature. Eventually, Thackeray got a small garden path approved by the Sena-governed Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Sources said two of the sites, located off the Veer Savarkar Marg (Cadell Road) in Dadar’s Mayor Bungalow precinct, are likely to get Thackeray’s approval, because they are close to Shivaji Park, where his father launched the party, addressed annual rallies and was laid to rest. The BMC owns these two sites. The other two sites – the Bombay Dyeing warehouse in Parel and salt pan land in Wadala – may not get Thackeray’s approval.
Fadnavis and Thackeray will also decide the system for maintenance of the memorial. It will be run by the government, the civic body, or even a trust appointed for the task, said a senior official. Modalities for financial grants for construction – contributions from the state and BMC – are also being considered, the official said.