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State government plans to allot Rs 100 crore to Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial Trust

After the multi-crore memorials dedicated to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharajand Babasaheb Ambedkar, the cash-starved state government now plans to allot Rs 100 crore to the Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial Trust.

The Thackeray Memorial Trust has asked for Rs 100 crore from the state government. Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said these funds would be made available to it.

As the Shivaji memorial is estimated to cost Rs 3,600 crore and the Ambedkar memorial Rs 900 crore, the total money to be spent on the three new memorials would come to Rs 4,600 crore.

The state currently has a debt burden of Rs 3.63 lakh crore.

The Thackeray Memorial Trust is a government one and will be run along the lines of the Y B Chavan trust. The Thackerays — Shiv Sena president Uddhav and his son Aditya — are its members. The memorial will come up at the mayor’s bungalow at Shivaji Park, Dadar.

“Balasaheb Thackeray occupies a place in the mind and hearts of the people. He belongs not just to the Shiv Sena but to the state. The trust made the application only yesterday, which is a little late to incorporate in this budget. But budgets are assigned to departments, so we shall see that the department makes the provision. If required, we will make funds available from the contingency fund,” said Mungantiwar.

Industry minister Subhash Desai, who is a member of the trust, said the first task before the trust will be the renovation of the mayor’s bungalow. On Tuesday, the legislative assembly cleared a bill approving the conversion of the bungalow into a memorial for the late Sena chief.

“With permission from the heritage committee, we shall carry out the structural audit and necessary repair works. The beautification of the garden too will be done. The bungalow will be used as a museum devoted to the works of Balasaheb Thackeray. His cartoons, paintings, and articles related to his life will be put on display. As and when the bungalow is handed over to the trust, it will put up display articles on the grounds. This is the general outlay,” he said.

A statue of Balasaheb Thackeray could also be a part of the display, he said, adding the trust is seeking detailed quotations from technical authorities for the museum.

There are also plans to hold cartoon workshops here as “cartooning was the main activity of Balasaheb,” said Desai.

 Gerson D’Cunha, founder-member, Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI), said any government money must be spent for public purposes. “I am personally against tax-payers’ money being spent on memorials and statues. It must be utilised for public good like hospitals, schools etc,” he said.

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