Mumbai: A proposal to erect the Shivaji's statue in the Arabian Sea in the city has evoked sharp reactions. While some favour the move, others say Rs 350 crore could be spent in a better way to celebrate the warrior king.
The Congress-led Democratic Front government first made an announcement on the Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial in 2004. The then Finance Minister of the state Jayant Patil made the announcement during his budget speech.
The memorial was supposed to be built on the lines of the Statue of Liberty in the US and Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari. The proposed 309-foot-tall statue, planned to be located off Marine Drive in the Arabian Sea had faced opposition from the Navy. It was also pointed out that the project will violate the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms. The state government then began searching for another location near the Gateway of India. Patil, who is the current Mumbai City District Guardian Minister also visited Worli Sea Face and Mahim Fort, in order to look for a different location for the statue.
"The government wants the memorial to be a major tourist attraction in Mumbai. Chhatrapati Shivaji is a source of inspiration for many. We hope to get environmental clearance soon. We will also have a museum on the premises, which will exhibit articles belonging to that era," said Patil.
Make a museum or open park instead
Tasneem Mehta, vice-chairman of INTACH said, "First of all, I want to emphasize that Shivaji was a great man, a great leader and we, as people and as a State have every reason to celebrate him. Yet, I have read that the Govt. proposes to spend at least Rs 350-crore to erect a statue of Shivaji in the middle of the sea.
That is a huge sum and one can only wonder how the authorities can spend that kind of money when we have so many drought afflicted people, so many others struggling because of natural calamities. That money should be used on empowering human beings.
In fact, I want to ask people to introspect about how Shivaji himself would have spent the money? Let's look at it this way -- how would the historical figure in the centre of this controversy have spent the money? Would he have chosen to put up a statue of himself? I think not, that is why we have the greatest respect and regard for him. He would not have put up a statue of himself like Mayawati. Instead, he would have used those funds for the needy, for he was a just and fair man.
As it is, the city has quite a few statues of Shivaji, there is one at Shivaji Park, a good one at the Gateway of India, at the international airport, these are important locations and he has been celebrated by the city. Making a statue in the sea is a huge expense and maintenance too would be very challenging as the sea air is very corrosive.
I think a beautiful open space named after him would be a better idea. Of course, we have Shivaji Park, but in a city where open space is so scarce, another park would always be welcome. One could also celebrate him by making a museum, which shows the heritage of Maharashtra. This could be a very good way to educate young persons on the interesting aspects of the State -- its wadas, lifestyle of the people, the costumes, and the literature. If one could pool in that kind of money into a museum, it would be a space to make history come alive, educate young persons, showcase Shivaji's exploits and explain why he is revered."
(INTACH is the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage is a Non-Profit Organization dedicated towards protecting and conserving India's heritage.)
Amendments soon in CRZ
The State Environment Ministry will soon send a proposal to the Central Government asking for an amendment in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) for special projects like the construction of a Shivaji statue in the Arabian Sea. Environment secretary Valsa Nair said, "Currently we have verbally communicated to the Central Government seeking their permission for the same. But we will soon be writing to the Government to make some amendment to the present CRZ norms for the project." Nair added the current CRZ norms do not allow construction of land in and around sea. "Hence, we will be writing to the Central Govt to amend the CRZ norms."
Coastal Regulation Zones
CRZs include areas upto 500 metres on the landward side of high-tide lines (HTL) and areas around creeks, rivers and so on.
The areas that are ecologically sensitive and the geomorphological features which play a role in the maintaining the integrity of the coast:
(i) no new construction shall be permitted in CRZ-I except:
(a) Projects relating to Department of Atomic Energy, pipelines, conveying systems including transmission lines; exploration and extraction of natural gas.
(b) Installation of weather radar for monitoring of cyclones movement and prediction by MET or construction of trans harbour sea link and without affecting the tidal flow of water.
(c) Development of green field airport already approved at only Navi Mumbai.
(d) Construction of dispensaries, schools, public rain shelter, community toilets, bridges, roads, jetties, water supply, drainage, sewerage which are required for traditional inhabitants.
The areas that have been developed upto or close to the shoreline:
(i) Buildings shall be permitted only on the landward side of the existing road, or on the landward side of existing authorized structures.
(ii) Buildings permitted on the landward side of the existing and proposed roads or existing authorized structures shall be subjected to the existing local town and country planning regulations including the 'existing' norms of Floor Space Index or Floor Area Ratio: provided that no permission for construction of buildings shall be given on landward side of any new roads which are constructed on the seaward side of an existing road.
(iii) Storage of non-hazardous cargo, such as edible oil, fertilizers and food grain in notified ports and facilities for generating power by non-conventional power sources.
Areas that are relatively undisturbed and those do not belong to either CRZ-I or II which include coastal zone in the rural areas (developed and undeveloped) and also areas within municipal limits or in other legally designated urban areas, which are not substantially built up. Area upto 200mts from HTL on the landward side in case of seafront and 100mts along tidal influenced water bodies or width of the creek whichever is less is to be earmarked as "No Development Zone (NDZ)"
(i) The NDZ shall not be applicable in such area falling within any notified port limits.
(ii) No construction shall be permitted within NDZ except for repairs or reconstruction--Construction/reconstruction of dwelling units of traditional coastal communities including fisherfolk may be permitted between 100 and 200 metres from the HTL along the seafront in accordance with a comprehensive plan prepared by the State Government or the Union territory in consultation with the traditional coastal.
(iii) However, the following activities may be permitted in NDZ:
(a) Agriculture, horticulture, gardens, parks, forestry, mining, storage of petroleum products and projects relating to Department of Atomic Energy etc.
The activities impugning on the sea and tidal influenced water bodies will be regulated except for traditional fishing and related activities undertaken by local communities as follows:
(a) No untreated sewage, effluents, ballast water, ship washes, fly ash or solid waste from all activities including from aquaculture operations shall be let off or dumped.
(b) Pollution from oil and gas exploration and drilling, mining, boat house and shipping.
In 2004, the Democratic Front government had announced its proposal to build a statue of Shivaji off Mumbai's coast. The project envisaging a statue of the 17th century Maratha warrior king around one kilometre off the coast was given the green signal in June 2008. In November 2008, 11 international firms responded to a competitive bid for the memorial. The 309-foot-tall statue, planned to be erected mid-sea, was estimated to cost Rs 350 crore, however there is a possibility that costs might escalate later. It will have the Maratha warrior astride a horse. But the project got delayed after new Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms were notified in 2011. According to the new CRZ rules, reclamation or any construction activity in the water up to 12 nautical miles (nearly 20 kilometres) into the sea is prohibited. However on Monday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan assured the legislature that the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial will come up in the Arabian Sea. The state would suggest amendments to CRZ norms, if required, to push through the project, he said. He informed the state legislature council on Monday that the Maharashtra government will make attempts to secure permission from the union Ministry of Environment and Forests within a year.
Varun Mahajan, 26, assistant manager at an insurance firm
The city certainly does not need statues as much as it needs good infrastructure. The government must on the other hand spend money on things like good infrastructure and health insurance for the poor.
Girish Barsagade, 47, Engineer
I support the government's plans to erect the statue of Shivaji in the Arabian sea. Our future generations must be made aware of our culture. The Shivaji memorial will definitely serve that purpose.
Shreya Vanja, 17, college student
It's not justified for the government to spend so much on erecting a statue. Instead the government must divert funds to improve the state of poverty, literacy and education in the city.
Ameya Gharat, 23, Lawyer
The government needs to spend money of building good roads, bridges and infrastructure for the city instead of spending large amounts of money on statues.
Soniya Pajankar, 37, Sports Coach
Shivaji was a great hero who strived for the welfare of his subjects. Even he would not have approved of so much money being spent on his statue while so many people in the city do not even have the basic necessities of life. The government must instead spend the money on peoples' welfare.