PM to perform bhoomi pooja for Shivaji memorial

Mumbai, Dec 21 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will perform bhoomi pooja for a grand statue and memorial of Chhatrapati Shivaji during a day-long visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, officials said.

The memorial and statue are expected to come up on a rocky islet around one kilometre into the Arabian Sea overlooking Marine Drive or Queen’s Necklace, with Malabar Hill on one end and Nariman Point at the other in south Mumbai.

“This memorial, Shiv Smarak, in the Arabian Sea will be the tallest memorial not only in the country but in the entire world,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said of the ambitious project estimated to cost around Rs 3,600 crore.

The state government has secured 12 major permissions from the Centre including the Environment Ministry, Defence Ministry, Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and others, he added.

Slated to be 309 feet tall, the statue along with a pedestal and foundation will be taller than the State of Liberty and is expected to be a major tourist attraction.

The memorial complex on the islet will house a library on the warrior king, an amphitheatre, an aqauarium and an IMAX cinema hall to screen films on the Chhatrapati, guest rooms and a helipad.

There will be replicas of the entrance arch of the historic Raigad Fort, of the Tulja Bhavani temple, forecourts designed after his palaces and wadas of the Maratha era.

The Shiv Smarak shall be accessible by boats to arrive and depart from jetties to come up at Radio Club in Colaba, Nariman Point and at Sagar Sangam in Navi Mumbai.

However, some fisherfolks’ organizations like Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samit and Paramparik Machhimar Seva Samit have opposed the project on grounds it could severely hit their livelihood.

Modi would be accompanied by Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray.

Two state cabinet ministers – Chandrakant Patil and Vinod Tawde – on Wednesday called on Thackeray at his home to formally invite him for the event on Saturday.

Modi will also lay the foundation stones for two metro railways, an elevated railway corridor, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link and address a public rally in Mumbai.

In adjoining Raigad, he will inaugurate the new SEBI Campus and later in Pune he will lay the foundation stone for the proposed Pune Metro Railway.