The pedestal of the statue of the Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji at the Gateway of India has developed cracks and is in a dilapidated condition.
However, the state and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are refusing to take responsibility for repairing it.
The state’s Archeology and Museum department had written to the city engineer department of the BMC in July saying that when the beautification work at the Gateway of India, a heritage zone, was in progress in 2008, the department had asked the civic body to issue a cheque of Rs 3.1 lakh to clean and repair the pedestal.
However, due to an error in the payee’s name, the work was not undertaken. After the error was spotted, the department asked for another cheque in 2009. The BMC did not respond.
The beautification project of the gateway was initiated in 2007 by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage trust along with the state archeology and museum department and was funded by the BMC.
“During the beautification project, even though the statue comes under the heritage precinct, it was not touched. Only the fountain near it was cleaned,” said Convenor of INTACH, Tasneem Mehta.
After the beautification process was complete, that same year, the department wrote another letter to the BMC, highlighting the urgent need for repair work to the statue.
The BMC replied saying the matter should be looked into by the state. However, nothing was done. “The statue, pedestal and the fountain are not on the state’s list of protected monuments and hence undertaking repairs is not the purview of the department,” said the letter written in July.
“We won’t be able to undertake repairs as it’s a structure owned by the state government,” said a senior official from the BMC’s city engineer department. Shiv Sena leader Rahul Shewale and the standing committee chairman said it is the state’s responsibility because they have been maintaining it for the last 50 years.
“Since the Sena-BJP is ruling the BMC, we want the statue to be restored to its original glory. So the civic body has appointed an architect who has submitted a report to undertake temporary measures,” said Shewale.