Nine years after the Congress-led government in Maharashtra made an election-time promise of constructing a 312-feet statue of warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji off Mumbai shore, the Centre today gave in-principle approval.
Addressing a press conference here, Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natrajan said the finalised site in the Arabian sea, a 18-hectare rock, was a safe place. "Even during high tide, the rock stands 3 to 4 meters above sea-level," she said.
The project, which will come up in Coastal Regulation Zone-4 (where no construction is allowed), was approved in principle as a special case, the Union Minister said. "We have studied the case thoroughly and are satisfied. No commercial activity is being allowed," she said.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said as many as 40 clearances of different kinds would be required. "We will now submit a detailed project report (to Centre)," he said.
Natrajan also said that she was "honoured and privileged" to announce the approval for the Shivaji statue.
Speaking about the 35.6 km coastal road project in Mumbai, which includes tunnels and road on stilts, the Union Minister said though land reclamation is not allowed in CRZ, she had agreed to consider it seriously.
"I have assured the Chief Minister that I would put forward the case before the National Coastal Zone Management Authority at its next meeting," she said.
Chavan said he had asked the Union Environment Minister to consider the state government's rejoinder on the Kasturiranjan panel report following Madhav Gadgil committee report on Western Ghats conservation.
"Maharashtra is the first state to submit its say to the Centre on the issue. We have asked the Union Minister to consider our statement seeking lifting of moratorium on mining upto five acres without waiting for others' responses," Chavan said.
Natrajan also said she would discuss the issue of proposed Ambedkar memorial on Indu Mill land in central Mumbai.
The environmental clearance for non-forest use of 88,000 hectares of land under 'zudpi' (brush) jungle in Vidarbha, and four-laning of Mumbai-Goa national highway near Karnala bird sanctuary will be discussed in the next meeting of forest advisory committee, she said.