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Bombay HC refuses to stay work on Shivaji Memorial in Arabian Sea

The Bombay High Court on Friday refused to stay work on the Rs 3,600 crore Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj memorial in the Arabian Sea being built by the Maharashtra government.

A division bench of Chief Justice N H Patil and Justice G S Kulkarni refused to grant interim stay on the project work as sought by three public interest litigations which raised questions on the government’s decision to spend so much money on a statue.

“We may observe that the decision to have a project of this nature is a policy decision taken by the state. We are sure that the state government has given appropriate consideration on all the financial issues before taking a policy decision to undertake the project in question,” the court said in its order.

From the government’s affidavit, it is clear that proper financial provision has been made and normal expenditure, which would be incurred by the state government on other necessary requirements, are not affected, the order said.

“Also, the state government contemplates a scheme which would be worked out to recoup the cost of the project which may include fees which would be charged from the visitors,” the court said.

It added that priorities of public need are matters which lie completely in the domain of the state government.

The petitions had criticised the government for spending Rs 3,600 crore on the memorial even though the state was reeling under a drought-like situation and facing several other more important issues which needed attention.

The government, in response, had said the expenses of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial statue was a capital expenditure and the statue would be an asset to the state.

Senior counsel V A Thorat, appearing for the government, had earlier told court that the government has examined each and every aspect, including safety and environmental issues, before beginning the work on the project.

He said a disaster management and evacuation plan was also in place.

“All environmental clearances have been given for the project. In fact, on June 15 this year, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) authority had given the government permission to increase the height of the statue from 192 metres to 210 metres,” Thorat said on Thursday.

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