Mumbai (The Hindu): A week after announcing the handover of work order of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s statue in the Arabian Sea, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government found itself cornered on Wednesday, when the Opposition pointed out that the height of the actual statue has been reduced in the new design, while the pedestal height has gone up.
Former CM Prithviraj Chavan claimed that the government has not received the environmental clearance for the project with the new design, and demanded that it come out with a clarification.
The issue was raised through an adjournment motion in the Assembly by Nationalist Congress Party MLA Jayant Patil, who said the statue height has come down to 126 metres from 160 metres. “The government is not only reducing the height of the statue, but that of the greatness of Shivaji Maharaj,” said Mr. Patil.
Finance Minister Sudhir Munguntiwar said the government is building a 210-metre-tall statue, which the Congress-NCP regime could not do in 15 years.
Addressing a press conference later in the day, Mr. Chavan presented the documents relating to the environmental clearance. As per the documents, the original proposal, which received the clearance on February 23, 2015, had the statue with a height of 160 metres, while the pedestal was of 32.5 metres. “First of all, the government did not begin the work after the first proposal got the approval. Since the design was changed, a fresh clearance is mandatory,” he said. According to the minutes of the expert appraisal committee (EAC) for the clearance, the height of the statue has been reduced to 126 metres and that of pedestal has increased to 84 metres. “The claim of making a 210-metre-tall statue has no meaning, since the actual size of the statue has come down,” said Mr. Chavan, asking the government to produce a copy of the new clearance.
He also said the EAC has asked the government to sort out issues such as permission from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority, status of court cases against the project, and details about the island.
Terming the allegations baseless, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government has not reduced the height of the memorial. “The project consultant committee recommended an alteration to the project, and it was done. The government did not have a say in it,” Mr. Fadnavis told the House.
Mr. Fadnavis also said that the Opposition could not even lay a brick in 15 years. “We will ensure the statue is the tallest in the world.”
Mr. Chavan has threatened to move a privilege motion against Mr. Fadnavis, claiming the information provided by him is not based on facts.
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