Shivaji Memorial - An important structure or a Waste of tax money?Some interesting facts about the new Shivaji SmarakCost of Building:
Rs 3,600 croreHeight:
190 m (Taller than statue of liberty)Area under construction:
The memorial will be able to accommodate 3000 visitors per day.
There will be an amphitheatre, auditorium and helipad built at the memorial.
The whopping Rs 3,600 crores worth of structure is about to be built in the middle of the Arabian Sea, off Mumbai’s coast. The centerpiece of the memorial would be a 190 metres high statue of Shivaji riding a horse. The Shivaji Memorial was a promise made by the erstwhile Congress led government but the project never really saw dawn during those years. BJP followed up on the project soon after it came to power and the ground-breaking ceremony is to be held as PM Modi arrives in Mumbai.
The project, however, has attracted a lot more controversy than excitement from various shades. The Koli (fishing) community is angry over losing livelihood, Shiv Sena and BJP are fighting for credit over the project, environmentalists are concerned about the degradation and people are concerned that tax payer’s money is being wrongly wasted.Important Structure1. Symbolic significance:
Shivaji, the 17th century ruler is said to be the epitome of good ideal governance, audacious and generous yet commanding leader to people. Shivaji was amongst the most celebrated rulers of all times of Maharashtra and that is why the project has unanimously been accepted and lauded by people of the region.2. Icon:
Every state and region likes to preserve and commemorate the ideals of its greatest icons. Shivaji being the most celebrated icon of Maharashtra should be commemorated too. One of the greatest rulers of India and not Maharashtra being commemorated is bound to go well with people over time as the structure gains popularity.3. Pleasing the Maratha community:
Amongst the various demands made by the Maratha community, this was the easiest to fulfill by the government. The others demands include quota and reservations which is not happening anytime soon. The community has always blamed the Congress for delaying the project and hence BJP takes the opportunity to score.4. Tourist destination:
A 190 metres high statue in a beautifully designed isle on the middle of the Arabian Sea overlooking the coasts of Mumbai is bound to attract tourists which are one of the ways in which government looks forward to benefit from building the structure. Boosting tourism is necessary in Mumbai as the livelihood of a lot of people depends on it.Waste of tax money1. Big cost:
Rs 3,600 crore being spent on building a show piece on the middle of the sea is nothing but a waste of tax payer’s hard earned money. This coming at the time when the whole of India is cringing under the burden of demonetization, poverty, plight of farmers, water deficit in Maharashtra and more is definitely a big waste that could have been used in better and productive ways.2. Fishermen’s plight:
The livelihood of over 1.5 lakh fishermen will be put at stake during the construction of the memorial and even after that. The Koli community has been severely protesting but there seems to be no hearing the plight of these poor people earning livelihood out of the sea. There could surely have been a better way of honoring Shivaji that did not include making the poor suffer.3. Debt burden:
The economic survey table shows that Maharashtra’s stands with a debt burden of 3.3 lakh crores. Maharashtra alone accounts for 12.2 per cent of total debt burden of all the states that are on the top of the debt list. At this time the state should not have called for this big wastage of tax payer’s money.4. Environment concern:
Building a structure as big as this would adversely affect marine life. Hampering ecology and degrading the environment is a big concern that comes with raising a structure on the middle of the sea. This issue is also being ignored as environmentalists have come out to protest that the construction of the structure would adversely affect the ecology.5. All for politics:
Congress delayed the project and BJP finds it as an opportunity to show people that he has the upper hand when it comes to the welfare of the community. Shiv Shena wants a part of the credit too but BJP is bent on not sharing it. The project was delayed one and a half years to hatch it just in time for the BMC polls. So much of wastage just for political gain.
There are people whose livelihood would be affected. Marine life and ecological concerns are also sidelined. The debt of the state also couldn’t stop the construction. Forget demonetization, the government has enough to fulfill the big demands that will get them big votes in the next poll.