Ground-breaking for Shivaji sea memorial on Feb 19

Nagpur/Mumbai :  The ground-breaking ceremony for the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai will be performed Feb 19, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Monday told the assembly.

He made the announcement in the assembly’s ongoing session at Nagpur, signalling the start of the ambitious memorial which has been under planning for several years, on the 383rd birth anniversary of the Maratha warrior king.

According to earlier indications, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to perform the ground-breaking ceremony of the mega-project.

The State government has fast-tracked the project following the environmental clearance granted by the Central government last week, as it falls under the stringent Coastal Regulation Zone-4 where no development is permitted.

The project was treated as “a special case” and granted an in-principle nod last year by the then UPA government.

The grand memorial, which was originally estimated to cost Rs.100 crore, is expected to come up on a rocky patch in the Arabian Sea, off south Mumbai, around four kms offshore.

The proposal has been a subject of discussion within and outside the Maharashtra legislature, and in the past decade all political parties have insisted on a grand memorial structure to be dedicated to the 17th century warrior king.

As per tentative plans, the government will erect the grand memorial on the lines of the Statue of Liberty off New York harbour, on an 18-hectare islet at the selected spot.

The monument, for which 40 different approvals are mandatory, is proposed to be constructed in such a manner that it would withstand natural calamities especially since the Mumbai coast experiences stormy monsoons every year.

A high-level committee of experts had gone into all aspects of the proposed iconic memorial in 2005 with the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue likely to be 309 feet tall, taller than the Statue of Liberty. After the State government’s first green signal in June 2008, 11 international firms had submitted competitive bids to construct the sea memorial.

The complex envisages an imposing statue of Shivaji, a garden surrounding it, an open air theatre for people who would be treated to multilingual audio-visual shows, a cafeteria, a museum with an exhibition on Chhatrapati Shivaji’s life and times, his belongings and other historical articles, besides other amenities.                     -IANS

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