Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday performed a mid-sea jalpujan for the 210-metre-tall memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to be constructed on a 16-hectare islet in the Arabian Sea. Along with the memorial, the PM also flagged off six other major infrastructure works with a combined construction cost of Rs 1.06 lakh crore, which would improve urban infrastructure in Mumbai city.
The green-lighting of these infrastructure projects by the Prime Minister is seen as the flagging off of the BJP’s endeavour to emerge as the dominant player in the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, which is presently controlled by the Shiv Sena.
The Prime Minister arrived at Girgaum Chowpatty at 2.25 pm and climbed aboard an Indian Coast Guard hovercraft to travel around 1.5 km into the Arabian Sea to perform the jalpujan for the proposed Rs 3,600-crore sea memorial to the great Maratha warrior king. The PM was accompanied by Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as well as descendants of the Maratha warrior, Udayan Raje Bhosale and Sambhaji Raje Bhosale.
A floating mini-replica of the memorial was created at the designated spot where the PM then undertook the jalpujan. The PM poured water brought from the state’s holy rivers and scattered a fistful of earth brought from all over Maharashtra at the site to perform the ritual.
Upon his return to the shore at Girgaum Chowpatty, he performed another brief bhoomipujan for the memorial.
The PM then arrived at the Bandra Kurla Complex, where he laid the foundation stone for five infrastructure projects, including the DN Nagar-to-Mankhurd Metro corridor, the Wadala-Ghatkopar-Thane-Kasarvadavali Metro, flyovers at Kalanagar junction, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, elevated road from LBS flyover, Kurla to Vakola. A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between the Maharashtra government and the railway ministry for implementing the Mumbai Urban Transport Project 3. “These are projects worth Rs 1.06 lakh crore. For Mumbai alone, in a single programme projects worth
Rs 1.06 lakh crore are being started. This is a big moment in the history of Mumbai and I would like to say that we will complete these projects,” Modi said while addressing the crowd.
During his speech, Modi lauded Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and stated that there were few individuals in world history who had created a highly refined and fair form of governance in such adverse circumstances. “He was a brave man who set a new standard of governance and administration in our history. He did this based only on his abilities and inspite of the overwhelming odds that he faced,” Modi said. The PM also said that there was a need to conserve memories of such leaders. He also said that there were other areas of the country which were rich in history but were not being harnessed in an effective way to develop their potential.
“It is our misfortune that we have not been able to see beyond the Taj Mahal. Every corner of this country has a pilgrim centre which has the potential to attract the attention of the world. If we want to show the true picture of India then we have places which will attract people,” the PM said.
Fadnavis also spoke at the event and said the jalpujan of the Shivaji memorial was being held on the same day when — 352 years ago — Chhatrapati Shivaji had laid the foundation stone for the Sindhudurg Fort. He claimed that previous governments had sat on the project for 15 years without getting any regulatory clearances.
“For 15 years people were only talking about this dream. The previous government could not get a single regulatory clearance for this project in the last 15 years. This government gave clearances to the project in six months,” Fadnavis said.
He also took on people who were opposing the project and said that societies that forget their history do not have a future. “People ask questions about the need of this project. I would like to tell them that those who forget their history have a past but do not have a future,” the CM said.