A city professor has moved the Bombay High Court, saying the state government’s project to construct a 192-metre tall statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the Arabian Sea at a cost of Rs 3,600 crore is “illogical and an irrational proposed expenditure”. The PIL, filed by Mohan Bhide, a Chartered Accountant and a professor who runs the Bhide Kapasi Classes in the city, claims the proposed project is a political stunt. “I have full respect and honour for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. But I am against the huge expenditure of hard-earned taxpayers’ money. The project of constructing a statue in the middle of the sea is nothing but a political stunt of all the political parties operating in Maharashtra,” states the petition.
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Bhide’s lawyer Ketan Parekh mentioned the petition before a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni on Thursday, which said it would take it up for hearing in due course.
Chief Justice Chellur, however, remarked, “have you seen the statue at Kanyakumari, the statue on Hussain Sagar lake in Hyderabad? If those state governments can afford it, we are sure Maharashtra government is richer, even they can afford.”
Parekh cited the financial indebtedness of the Maharashtra government as a counter. “The public at large is not concerned with building of such memorials but instead expects the state to provide better standard of living and public amenities,” added the petition.
The petition sought that the High Court direct to “scrap, cancel, set aside and quash the project”.
“The proposed budget for the said project is about Rs 3,600 crore. Merely for inaugurating the opening ceremony, the state government spent Rs 77 crore. All this expenditure at a time when the government is itself facing financial crunch is unnecessary. Last year, the government declared drought in over 25,000 villages,” the petition said, adding the government should first focus on addressing these issues.
The PIL also pointed to “environmental issues which is likely to affect the seashore at Girgaon by the construction of the statue. It further stated that the state has done little to maintain other forts constructed by him and his descendants across the state, including the fort where he was born in, Shivneri Fort, and the Raigad Fort, where his capital was located.”
“Many of these forts are in a dilapidated condition and the government has not taken any measures to retain them,” the PIL alleged.