Historical figures put on pedestals, then forgotten
A journey by MiD DAY within and outside city limits reveals numerous memorials of freedom fighters and national icons are lying in a state of utter neglect
August 15 was just a few days ago. So, MiD DAY decided to explore how the city was treating its freedom fighters and historical figures immortalised in feats of clay at various traffic intersections and stamping grounds. Our investigations revealed that these statues and monuments of martyrs — erected after spending a hefty amount of taxpayers’ money — are often completely overlooked by authorities.
And while the pictures of rioters desecrating the memorial at Azad Maidan a week ago roused widespread public anger and political paroxysm, pictures taken by MiD DAY of these monuments — hiding in plain sight and crumbling bit by bit every day — are testaments of how much the authorities, and indeed the citizens, value our history, our independence, and those who made it possible.
Memorial of Veer Savarkar
At: Malad (West)
Condition: The memorial next to Liberty Garden at Malad (West) is bang opposite P-North ward office of BMC. We found the frame of Savarkar’s spectacles broken. Instead of repairing or replacing it, the corporation has only yoked it up with a piece of wire. Bushes and shrubs are growing uninhibitedly around the sculpture, attracting birds, rodents and insects, making the place grimy.
Authority says: Ward officer Devendrakumar Sao Jain said, “The condition of the statue according to my knowledge is satisfactory. The little wear and tear that needs replacement or maintenance would be addressed immediately. We will also get the bushes pruned.”
Memorial of Veer Savarkar
Condition: Another monument of Savarkar stands right in the middle of SV Road connecting the eastern and western halves of Goregaon. The statue draws droves of pigeons and crows that leave their mark on it. People living in or passing through the area, said they have often complained about the state of the memorial to government representatives.
Authority says: Ranjeet Dhakne, who heads the P-South Ward office, said, “The statue is in appropriate state and is also clean as our workers go there every alternate day to scrub and maintain it. So the chances of it being disregarded or soiled are very less.”
Memorial of Veer Netaji Palkar
At: Andheri (East)
Condition: This site — established in memory of this trusted aide of Shivaji — near the Andheri (East) subway has a lot of stagnating water and the railings are used by locals to dry their laundry.
Authority says:: Nishikant Patil said, “I will look into it personally and get the memorial back in proper shape. If I had been informed about the situation earlier, this problem would already have been fixed.”
Memorial of Vinayak Gore
At: Vile Parle (East)
Condition: This sculpture in memory of the slain army man near Vile Parle (East) biscuit factory is also in similar pitiable state as the Palkar memorial.
Authority says: “The problem with the Vinayak Gore memorial is that it usually goes unnoticed. But we will definitely clean the surrounds and also the memorial on a regular basis henceforth,” Nishikant Patil said.
Memorial of Sachin Mirajkar
At: Andheri (East)
Condition: The monument honouring the Kargil martyr, which stands opposite Andheri (East) police station, is surrounded from all sides by a metal fabrication, due to which the visibility and the maintenance of the memorial have been compromised, claim local residents.
Authority says: Sub-engineer, Nishikant Patil of K-East Ward, who is responsible for the maintenance of the memorial, said, “There are chances of such things getting neglected. But whenever we have been notified, we have done our best to improve upon our efforts.”
Statue of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule
Condition: MiD DAY found that the space in front of this monument is being used for illegally parking vehicles.
Authority says: Sandeep Malvi, public relations officer of Thane Municipal Corporation said, “The corporation would take immediate action against the unauthorised parking. The statue is being maintained adequately as we send our workers to clean it regularly.”
Statue of Jawaharlal Nehru
At: Nariman point
Condition: The statue of Jawaharlal Nehru near the Air India building is in a dilapidated state. Labourers working in the neighbourhood said, the memorial doesn’t receive upkeep and birds frequently stain it.
Authority says: Devidas Kshirsagar, assistant municipal commissioner of A-Ward, said, “This area doesn’t come under our jurisdiction. The maintenance of the statue is done by Public Works Department.”
When contacted, VR Naik, chief engineer, Public Works Department, said, “I am not aware of this statue and its condition.”
If authorities cannot maintain these statues, why do they build them in the first place? Such memorials are soon forgotten and this neglect is a mark of disrespect towards these icons.
— Aseem Panjwani, Liberty Garden
People are losing faith in government agencies. What lessons would our children learn looking at these dilapidated monuments.
— Minal Mittal, Andheri
This is utter failure on part of BMC’s maintenance department. The civic agency needs to pull up its socks.
— CP Singh, Goregaon
This is my request to the authorities that please don’t build such statues and memorials if you are not in a position to maintain them.
— Haren Trivedi, Kandivli