With elections around the corner, the Maharashtra government has revived its project to build an equestrian statue of Shivaji in the Arabian Sea, off Marine Drive in Mumbai — on a much grander scale.
A high-powered committee headed by the city’s guardian minister and NCP leader Jayant Patil has shelved the earlier plans approved by former chief minister Ashok Chavan and is set to start afresh, based on a new concept design submitted by the JJ School of Architecture.
While the earlier design proposed a modest height of 321 ft (98 metres), the new plans could make the Shivaji statue the tallest in the world at 190 metres, taller than even the proposed Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue (182 metres) in Gujarat, which was being touted as the world’s tallest.
“Our criterion is not to create the tallest statue but one that is prominently visible from the Queen’s Necklace,” said Patil. He said IIT-Bombay would carry out tests to ascertain the load-bearing capacity of the base this week. “Only after that will we take a decision on the final height of the statue,” he said.
According to the earlier design, the statue was to be built on a pedestal shaped like a shivling, on 7.5 acres of reclaimed land one kilometre into the sea from Marine Drive. The new design has the statue placed on a pedestal that resembles the octagonal shape of Shivaji’s raj mudra or royal seal.
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The new plans also include a museum to exhibit artefacts, history and murals on Shivaji, dancing fountains, amphitheatre, auditorium, aquarium, facilities for sound and light shows and water adventure sports. These are to be built on an existing elliptical basalt rock structure with an area of 16 hectares during low tide.
The site is located further into the sea, at 1.2 km from Raj Bhavan, 3.6 km from Girgaum Chowpatty beach and 2.6 km from Nariman Point.
State government sources said the cost of the new statue could well exceed Rs 1,000 crore. When the project was first proposed, the estimated cost was Rs 100 crore, which was later hiked to Rs 500 crore.
“The old design was meant for a different location which was beset with environmental issues. We had to go for a new concept since we now have a new spot which is located further into the ocean,” said Patil. Plans for the statue were first announced in the 2004 election manifesto of the Congress-NCP combine in the state.
The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and National Institute of Oceanography have been asked to draft an Environmental Impact Assessment report for the project, a pre-requisite for clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.