Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday laid the foundation stone of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s memorial on board a hovercraft in the Arabia Sea situated off the Mumbai coast. The memorial, which includes a proposed 192-meter (630-foot) -tall statue of Shivaji, a 16th century ruler from western India, will be built off the coast of Mumbai on land reclaimed from the Arabian Sea. Along with the prime minister, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thakeray, who is also BJP’s ally, were also present on board the hovercraft.
“Even in the midst of struggle, Shivaji Maharaj remained a torchbearer of good governance,” said Modi. The PM performed the ‘jalpujan’ at the designated spot, symbolically marking the start of construction of the magnificent memorial in the Arabian Sea, which, according to the state government, is going to be the tallest such structure in the world. Shivaji’s descendants Udayanraje Bhosale and Sambhaji Raje (both Parliamentarians) were also on board the
hovercraft. When the hovercraft reached the memorial site, Modi immersed the ‘kalash’ in the sea. The PM also inspected a float depicting Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation.
The project is expected to be completed by 2019. The Maharashtra government is expected to spend about 36 billion rupees ($530 million) on the statue.
Earlier in the day, PM Modi had tweeted that he was honoured to be getting the opportunity to perform the Bhoomipujan of Shiv Smarak.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is a torchbearer of courage, bravery & good governance. #ShivSmarak is a fitting tribute to him & his greatness.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 24, 2016
PM Modi’s visit is politically significant as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections are just a few months away. To this effect, Fadnavis had very recently said that the memorial will the tallest in the entire world as he thanked PM Modi for it. The memorial has also come under sharp criticism from environmental activists and others, who have alleged that it will affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea. The fishermen community, in particular, has however decided not to further rake up the issue after Fadnavis assured their concerns will be addressed.
(With PTI inputs)