While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to attend the ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the grand Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj memorial in the Arabian Sea on December 24, citizen groups have started an online petition opposing the project, saying it would be a financial burden and environmental disaster for the state to go ahead with the plan.
Earlier, a group of marine conservationists also filed a petition with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) asking it to restrain the government from carrying out construction for the memorial, citing that it would disrupt marine life and have an impact on the livelihoods of fishermen dependant on the fishing trade.
The online petition, uploaded on the website change.org, said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for the Rs 3,600 crore project on December 24. This is tax payers’ money and I am sure we would all like this money to be spent on something better, like on better education, infrastructure. This is not what Shivaji would have wanted and I am sure we can find other ways to honour him. Apart from a waste of money, this statue is going to be terrible for the environment; for the traffic situation in South Bombay and a security nightmare.”
The construction of the Shivaji memorial involves building the world’s tallest statue, taller than that of the New York’s Statue of Liberty and the under-construction State of Unity statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat. The memorial proposed in the city would be 210 metres high, i.e. as high as a 12-storey building. It will be constructed on a rock measuring around 15 hectare.
Environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal said, “Apart from it being an environmental disaster, the government should also spend money on a project rationally. If ‘good governance’ is the governments’ motto, and at a time when the state is under debt of Rs 3 lakh crore, it should avoid spending such a huge amount on one particular statue.”