NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is tweaking its coastal zone regulations which would allow construction of the ambitious giant statue of warrior-king Chhatrapati Shivaji off the Mumbai coast in Arabian Sea. The ministry has issued a draft which proposes to ease Costal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms through amendment in the CRZ notification, 2011 which would allow construction of memorials or monuments in the sea.
At present, the CRZ rules prohibits any such project but once the CRZ notification is finalized, “exceptional projects” such as memorials and monuments and allied facilities would be allowed with required environmental safeguards. The draft notification is seeking suggestions and objections for a period of sixty days after which the MoEF will take a final decision on it.
The move seems to be politically important for the BJP as Prime Minister Modi had invoked Shivaji Maharaj several times during his campaign for Maharashtra elections. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had also been seeking clearance for the Shivaji statue and memorial.
The idea was first proposed in 2004 by the then Congress led government in Maharashtra but has been pending for over a decade now.
Though Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in December 2014 had announced clearance to the over 300 feet tall Shivaji statue, the project could not move forward for want of CRZ clearance. The environment clearance by the MoEF had come following discussion with Fadnavis.
The planned statue is said to be located off the Marine Drive along the Arabian Sea. Apart from the statue, the complex also plans to have a memorial which will have an art museum exhibiting scriptures, artifacts and documentaries on Shivaji, a marine aquarium, a garden and other facilities.
Before the Maharashtra elections, earlier this year, the project was revived by former chief minister Prithiviraj Chavan, who had said that it will be tallest in the world. The announcement at that time was seen as a counter to Prime Minister and former Gujarat chief Narendra Modi’s announcement of constructing world tallest statue of India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
The Gujarat government in October this year has issued work order of `2,979 crore Larsen & Toubro (L&T) to construct the Statue of Unity as the world’s tallest statue. The 182-metre statue of Patel will be double the size of the US Statue of Liberty and four times that of the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.