Nearly two months after a speedboat carrying at least 25 people capsized in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast while on way to the proposed site of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial, the state Public Works Department (PWD) is once again planning a ‘bhoomipujan’ at the site, this time on December 20. The mishap on October 24 had led to the death of one person.
Documents accessed by The Indian Express under the Right to Information Act show that the CSMM project division of the PWD has written to the Maharashtra Maritime Board, Mumbai Port Trust and Mumbai Police seeking permission for the event. The ‘bhoomipujan’ at the site in the Arabian Sea will now be held at 3.55 pm on December 20, and three boats, along with five small dinghy boats, will depart from the jetty at the Gateway of India around 2.30 pm, the documents show.
Besides, permission has been sought from the police for video-shooting the event through drone cameras. Sources in the PWD said the programme is being organised following instructions from Vinayak Mete, chairman of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial Project Implementation, Monitoring and Co-ordination Committee. However, Mete did not respond to calls and messages from The Indian Express.
Further, the documents show Mete had instructed PWD officials on December 1 to hold the ‘bhoomipujan’ on December 4. However, the programme had to be postponed as it was difficult to make all arrangements in a short period, said sources.
On October 24, Mete had organised a ‘bhoomipujan’ at the proposed site. That day, one person died after the speedboat capsized. The boat was carrying officials and workers of Mete’s Shiv Sangram organisation for the event. The ‘bhoomipujan’ was subsequently cancelled. The inquiry into the mishap, ordered by the Maharashtra government, is yet to be completed.
The proposed Shivaji statue in the Arabian Sea is a flagship programme of the BJP-led government in the state. In December 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the memorial and held a ‘jalpujan’ at the site. Following the boat mishap, Opposition parties had criticised the ‘bhoomipujan’, questioning the need for organising the programme.