The state government has decided to set up a committee to study any losses to be incurred by the fishermen community in particular due to the construction of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj statue in the Arabian sea. In a press conference on Thursday, Education Minister Vinod Tawde and Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil told the media that there won’t be any loss to the community and, if any loss is incurred, the state will compensate.
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“Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met the fishermen community and explained to them that the place to construct the Shivaji Maharaj memorial project was selected only after a detailed study by experts. There were misunderstandings where they thought a road to the memorial will be constructed. We have assured them that people will be using boats to reach the memorial and the government will be providing fishermen loans to purchase boats that will be used by tourists. Fishermen can form an organisation/society and we will give them a monopoly in operating these boats. Jobs will be created in and around the memorial project and these fishermen will be given priority. We have already clarified that fishing will not be affected due to the memorial,” said Patil.
The 192-metre tall statue has been planned on a rocky outcrop of 15.96 hectares, roughly 1.5 km from Raj Bhavan and 3.5 km into the Arabian Sea.
Fishermen from settlements near Cuffe Parade, Machimar Nagar, Nariman Point, Geeta Nagar (near Navy Nagar), near Raj Bhawan and Backbay have 1,500 large boats and 450 small boats along the stretch. They fear fishing would be affected due to the project and a large number of fishermen’s livelihood will be affected.
Patil said the state government is very optimistic that the fishermen will not protest against the project and will attend the jalpujan in large numbers. “The government has already assured them that the community will not face losses and if they incur any losses the state government will look at ways in which they will be compensated,” added Patil.
The state government is planning to recreate the celebrations of the coronation ceremony of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on Saturday. Water from all the rivers and soil from forts across the state will be gathered for the bhoomipujan ceremony.
When asked about the budgetary allocation for the project, Tawde said, “Issues like budget and political rivalry should not and will not be a hurdle in the project. We will not let that happen. This project is not for any political gains as touted by many.”
Following the conference, Tawde and Patil also showed a detailed presentation on the preparation and planning of the bhoomi poojan to the media. A presentation was given and the media was taken on a virtual tour of the memorial project.