Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that he would convene a meeting of opposition leaders to get their suggestions regarding the proposed statue of Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, a project which has run into a controversy over changes in its design.
Continuing its attack on the BJP-led government over the project, opposition leaders sought to know if the statue’s height has been “reduced” to ensure that a similar structure being built in memory of Iron Man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat becomes the tallest one in the world.
Speaking in the Assembly, Fadnavis reiterated the government’s position that the statue, which will come up in the Arabian Sea, would be the tallest monument in the world.
The opposition has claimed the new design will lead to a reduction in the height of the 17th century warrior king’s statue.
Earlier, Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil of the Congress, Ajit Pawar and Jayant Patil (both from the NCP) accused the government of reducing the height of the statue and said that this would not be tolerated.
They claimed that the government’s revised design will see the equestrian statue’s height coming down to 126 metres from earlier 160 metres and sought to know if the structure’s height was allegedly being reduced to see that Patel’s statue in Gujarat was taller than Shivaji’s.
“Some people are saying that the height of Shivaji Maharaj’s statue has been reduced to ensure that Patel’s statue remains taller. This won’t do. We respect Patel too. But Shivaji Maharaj is our deity,” Pawar said, adding any effort to reduce the height of Shivaji’s statue won’t be tolerated.
Vikhe-Patil, Jayant Patil and Pratap Sarnaik of the Shiv Sena expressed similar views.
Fadnavis, however, dismissed the opposition claim on the height of the statue and said, “I reiterate that the statue would be the tallest in the world.”
Asserting that the design of the statue was changed to see to it that it withstands gusty sea winds and waves, the chief minister said, “I will convene a separate meeting to discuss with the group leaders if they still have doubts. I will keep all the plans, designs before the group leaders, opposition leaders. If we want to make changes, that can be based on suggestions.”
According to the state government’s reply to an RTI query last week, certain height specifications of the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial have been changed to reduce the cost of the Rs 3,600-crore project.
In the new design, the height of the warrior king’s statue would be reduced by 7.5 metres, although the sword he wields will be taller than in the original design.
However, these changes will not alter the total height of the statue, which would be 121.2 metres. The height of the entire structure, including the pedestal, would be 212 metres, the government said in its RTI reply.