Third visit by a CM to site of 9-year-old unkept promise

Inclement weather prevented Prithviraj Chavan from inspecting a hunk of rock in the Arabian Sea yesterday. The visit and the nearly 18-hectare area off Mumbai’s coast assume importance since this is the site of a 309-ft statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji – an unfulfilled promise first mooted by the Democratic Front government in 2004, ahead of the assembly elections. Incidentally, Chavan became the third chief minister from the state to drop by at the site.

Prithviraj Chavan

Accompanying the CM were his deputy Ajit Pawar, city guardian minister Jayant Patil, and a few other senior government officials. But adverse weather conditions on a high tide day precluded a successful journey. There was approximately 1.5 metre of water above the rock, sources from the government said.

While the VVIPs could see the exact location, others such as security personnel and functionaries from various departments had a hard time. The three boats carrying security men and government officials had to be sent back to Girgaum Chowpatty due to towering waves, sources said. The proposed memorial still needs 25 permissions from various government authorities. The state is likely to make a presentation before the union environment minister soon, sources said.

The Democratic Front government is also in the process of making a formal request to National Institute of Oceanography, IIT Bombay and NEERI (Nagpur) for conducting a comprehensive survey on geotechnical aspects, environmental impact assessment and coastal regulation zone, sources said. Since 2004, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan had visited the site when occupying the CM’s post. Home minister RR Patil, who is said to have conceptualised the memorial, accompanied both during their trips.

On the rise
The approximate cost of the project was pegged at Rs 100 crore when it was first announced. The figure went up to Rs 350 crore in 2009, and now no representative of the state government is ready to speak on the matter. But sources say, expenses may now cross Rs 1,200 crore. 

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