Shivaji statue in the Arabian Sea shelved

Three years ago the state approved plans for setting up a 309-foot tall Shivaji statue in the Arabian Sea off Marine Drive. But the project has now been shelved on technical grounds. According to officials, the plan had to be dropped as the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) was opposed to the idea of reclamation. The state government is now exploring the option of constructing a statue of the warrior king astride a horse on a rock near Worli Fort. While the original site (1 km from the shore) is in the highly restrictive coastal regulation zone-I (CRZ-I), officials say the new site is in CRZ-II. “The new reclamation is not proposed to be a part of the revised project,” an official said. A team led by Jayant Patil, guardian minister of Mumbai (island city), chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad and senior civic officials conducted a joint visit to the new site a fortnight ago and found it suitable for the project. A senior state government official said there were slum encroachments at the Worli site but these would be removed. Confirming that the Arabian Sea reclamation plan had been shelved, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar informed mediapersons about a plan to conduct an aerial review by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and himself of the new site; he refused to identify the specific point. The NCP, to which Pawar belongs, had supported the reclamation idea aggressively. A senior official said the statue could be installed on a rock. While granting approvals for the Arabian Sea project, the government had okayed designs submitted by a consortium of Thailand-based architects Bensley Design Studios and city-based Team One Architects. The designs, approved following a global tender, included construction of a multi-utility complex including water sports facilities and a revolving restaurant. It is unclear whether the design will be considered for the new site.

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