Mumbai: No clarity over who will maintain Shivaji statue

PWD cites lack of manpower to clean Chhatrapati Shivaji’s statue at Shivaji Park, and so has been painting it twice a year; the BMC is ready to maintain it, but says they haven’t received any reply after seeking permission to do so

It seems while the state celebrated the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji yesterday, and the government has plans to erect a huge memorial for the warrior on the Arabian Sea, it is unable to properly maintain his existing statues.

A BMC engineer says they need permission from the higher authorities to restore the statue. Years of painting it with oil colours may have damaged the statue. Pic/Suresh K K
A BMC engineer says they need permission from the higher authorities to restore the statue. Years of painting it with oil colours may have damaged the statue. Pic/Suresh K K

For the past few years, the Public Works Department (PWD) has been painting the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji at Shivaji Park twice a year. But in their enthusiasm to do so, they may have actually damaged it. A conservation and restoration artist says the colour could spoil the bronze statue, which is already under layers of paint.

PWD engineer H Narkhade said, “We have been oil-painting the statue for almost 20 years, especially on occasions such as Shiv Jayanti, Republic Day and Labour Day. This year we had painted the statue two days before Republic Day, and so did not find the need to do so again on Shiv Jayanti.

On May 1 this year, we shall paint the statue on the occasion of Labour Day. We cannot clean the statue regularly as we don’t have enough manpower.” Citing lack of adequate manpower, it is learnt that the PWD has asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to undertake maintenance of the statue.

But BMC claims that they have already sought permission to undertake maintenance of the statue, and that the PWD hasn’t replied to its request. Former Mayor and recently elected MLA of Shiv Sena, Sunil Prabhu said, “I had written a letter to the PWD over a year back, asking them to handover the statue to us for maintenance, but we haven’t received any reply till now.”

Executive engineer of BMC’s Heritage department, Sanjay Sawant said, “We are ready to restore the statue, but an order from the higher authorities is necessary, without which we cannot touch it.” G-North ward officer, Sharad Ughde said, “Only the green surroundings around the statue are maintained by us.”

MNS to take action
MNS corporator Santosh Dhuri said, “The PWD officials themselves said that they paint the statue. This is damaging it. Though the Shiv Sena is in power, even they are not doing anything to restore the statue. Now we are going to make sure that BMC takes over its maintenance.”

Paint on bronze
A restoration and conservation artist called to inspect the statue by BMC Deepak Patkar said, “I was asked to restore the statue by the civic body. When I went to see its condition, I noticed the oil paint. But after that day I haven’t received any call from them.”

“The statue is made from bronze but they have painted it in oil colour, which is totally inappro-priate and will spoil it. To repair the damage, first the oil paint will have to be removed and only after that the original bronze statue will be exposed,” Patkar told this newspaper.

The statue
The statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on the western side of Shivaji Park is one of the few statues in which the warrior king has been depicted without his sword. He is simply shown leading the way with his arm outstretched. It was created in 1966 with donations from people.

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