PM Modi in Mumbai today to lay foundation for Rs 3,600-crore Shivaji memorial

Fadnavis, however, assured Shivaji followers that the statue would be constructed and made ready during his tenure.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: December 24, 2016 9:32 am
modi-759 A hovercraft at Girgaum Chowpatty in Mumbai on Friday, ahead of PM Narendra Modi’s Saturday visit. Express Photo by Prashant Nadkar

CHIEF MINISTER Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said the government would go ahead with the construction of the Shivaji Memorial in the Arabian Sea despite opposition to the project. “Even the great warrior king had to face opposition, but that did not stop him. We will also not let any opposition stop the project,” said the CM at an event at the Gateway of India.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Maharashtra on Saturday and lay foundation stones for the memorial as well as metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.

The state government’s plan to build the Rs 3,600-crore memorial has been criticised by environmentalists and citizens. While environmentalists have raised concerns about the impact of the construction on marine life, an online campaign started this week by a citizen against the memorial has garnered over 21,000 signatures. Fisherfolk have also opposed the construction, claiming it will affect their livelihood.

Fadnavis, however, assured Shivaji followers that the statue would be constructed and made ready during his tenure.

A day before the jalpujan for the Shivaji statue by PM Modi, the BJP organised a show of strength across the city. Water samples from rivers and soil samples from the warrior king’s forts were collected from all 36 districts and brought to the city. A chariot rally displaying the 72 urns filled with the water and soil from across the state began from Shivaji Chowk in Chembur.

Saffron flags were unfurled across the city as the rally made its way to the Gateway of India, where the chief minister delivered his address. “After a delay of 15 years, the dream for the statue will finally be fulfilled,” said Fadnavis.

The Maratha community has been organising protests across the state to demand benefits through reservation.

BJP yatra, rally irk allies

Politics intensified in Mumbai a day before PM Narendra Modi’s arrival in the city.

The BJP’s rath yatra and bike rally — organised a day before the foundation-laying ceremony for the Shivaji memorial — did not go down well with the party’s allies, who did not participate in the rath yatra.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who is expected to attend Saturday’s events, went into a huddle with his party’s senior legislators and ministers. Top sources in the Shiv Sena said the party was planning a “show of strength” of its own on Saturday.

Shiv Sangram leader Vinayak Mete, who is now a BJP legislator, was upset at being “sidelined” despite spearheading the state committee that conceptualised and finalised the memorial. “I am yet to receive an invite for Saturday’s event. It hurts when the effort put in by you does not get acknowledged,” Mete said.

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