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Friday, March 05, 2021

Undersea rail mooted to reach site of Shivaji memorial during rains

PWD Minister Ashok Chavan has asked officials to submit a detailed report on the undersea metro rail option.

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai |
Updated: February 8, 2021 7:44:01 am
Concept plan of the memorial. (File Photo)

Realising the inaccessibility of the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial in the Arabian Sea during monsoon, the state’s Public Works Department (PWD) is now exploring the option of undersea metro rail to reach the memorial site during four months of monsoon. PWD Minister Ashok Chavan has asked officials to submit a detailed report on the undersea metro rail option.

Chavan issued the directions to PWD officials during a meeting held in September last year to review the memorial project works. As per the minutes of the meeting, which were issued on February 1, the consultants mentioned that it would not be possible to reach the project site during the four months of monsoon.

“So, the consultant suggested various options such as ropeway, sea link, underground metro rail route to reach the site for all 12 months. The option of underground metro rail route seems feasible and safe. Therefore, the detailed information based on the consultant’s information should be submitted,” stated the minutes of the meeting chaired by Chavan. The meeting was attended by senior PWD officials and others. Earlier, an undersea tunnel was proposed as an option.

This is for the first time that the issue of inaccessibility of the site during monsoon has been taken up at the level of a minister and senior officials. While the undersea metro rail lines from Girgaum Chowpatty and Cuffe Parade were considered, preference is being given to undersea metro rail line from Cuffe Parade as it is just 1.2 kilometres away from the site, said sources.

According to government estimates, around 10,000 tourists are expected to visit the memorial site daily after completion of the first phase of the project work and additional 15,000 after completion of the second phase of project work.

The source further said that building the underground metro rail would require an additional Rs 1,500 crore and a clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF). The memorial project, which has been proposed around 20 years ago, was fast-tracked during the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led government’s tenure. The estimated cost of the project is around Rs 3,600 crore.

Activists have slammed the government for haphazard planning and have demanded the reconsideration of the project site. “Firstly, there is no land above the high tide line. By reclamation, a small island will be created in the Arabian sea for the memorial project. Below the island, the rock strata comprises a small basalt portion and then there is only a shale which is considered very weak soil. So, creating any kind of tunnel will not be feasible,” said Vice Admiral (Retired) I C Rao who heads NGO, Apli Mumbai. He added that the government must reconsider the entire project due to the lack of safety and haphazard planning.

The proposed memorial – 212 m in height, including a 123.2-m equestrian statue standing atop an 88.8-m pedestal – was the flagship project of the previous Devendra Fadnavis government. Currently, work on the project has been stalled following a Supreme Court stay order given in January 2019.

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