PM Modi in Mumbai Today to Lay Foundation Stone of Shivaji Statue Worth Rs 3600 crore Amidst Controversy

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PM Modi

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji in Mumbai today at around 3.30 PM. The statue will be built off the Mumbai coast and will cost a sum of Rs. 3600 crores. The PM will also inaugurate metro rail projects in megapolis Mumbai and Pune. At the time of this report, the PM is at Raigad where he is speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management or the NISM. The PM was welcomed by the governor of Maharashtra C. Vidyasagar Rao.

An artist’s rendering of the Shivaji state off the Mumbai coast

The PM’s visit assumes significance when one looks at it in the context of the upcoming elections at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), where the BJP will be up for elections along with its NDA partner, the Shiv Sena. The statute of the Maratha icon is to come up on a rocky and deserted islet just fifteen hundred metres from the shores of South Mumbai on the Arabian Sea overlooking Marine Drive, with the Malabar Hill on one end and Nariman Point at the other.Earlier, the state government managed to gather  12 major permissions from the Centre including those from the Environment Ministry, Defence Ministry, Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and others.

Controversy Surrounding The Statue

The statue itself will be gargantuan: it will dominate the skyline being 309 feet tall and is expected to be a major draw for tourists.  The statue, when calculated with its pedestal and the foundation, will be taller than New York’s landmark Statue of Liberty and will cost a whopping Rs. 3600 crores. There has been some controversy over the statue mainly on two fronts: the cost of the statue which is thought to be a waste of taxpayers’ money and its environmental concerns, as fishermen will lose their livelihood when the statue is completed. Earlier today, fishermen who were protesting against the statue’s erection withdrew their protests, Firstpost reports. Members of Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti (AMMKS), an association of fishermen from Cuffe Parade, had declared that they would fly black flags on their boats and homes as a sign of protest. Additionally, a petition has been filed on Change.org with the stated objective of asking the Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis to stop construction of the statue in light of its steep cost. Prominent Mumbaikars have also questioned the sense in ‘wasting’ so much money given the high incidence of farmer suicides in the state.

The PM, however, has not commented on this issue. He has stated that he is honoured to perform the ‘Bhoomipuja’ at the site. Modi also mentioned that Pune Metro Project’s Phase-1, which he will inaugurate today will benefit a lot of people. No word from CM Fadnavis has been received either. The statue has been named the ‘ShivSmarak’. The PM has also been accused of trying to woo the Maratha community in general after protests began in the village of Kopardi in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra demanding reservations.

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