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Why Maharashtra Govt's Rs 3600 Chhatrapati Shivaji Monument project should not be opposed
On December 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed 'Bhoomipujan' for a world class Chhatrapati Shivaji Monument project, to be constructed by 2019, in the Arabian Sea. The 192-meter-tall statue will be world's tallest statue surpassing the Statue of Liberty and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's statue (being constructed in Gujarat). The site of the statue i.e. an egg-shaped basalt rocky plain, is almost 3.5 kms into the sea.

The idea of such a statue was mooted long back in 1980. In 2004, the budget for this statue was Rs 100 crore. It jumped to Rs 700 croe in 2009 and Rs 1400 crore in 2014. The present budget is Rs 3600 crore and the cost includes the construction of a memorial also.

While the people of Maharashtra welcomed this idea, but there are lot of people who are objecting statue's construction for two reasons. Some although welcomed this statue project but asked questions about its probable locations citing environmental issues. Others criticized the huge amount of Rs 3600 crores to be spent on it.

According to some estimates, a micro irrigation projects can be constructed with such an amount of money. Some even compared the BJP government's intent at par with statue spree of Mayawati, the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Here let me frankly say two things. Firstly, I am personally against Maywati's statue spree at the cost of public money. Statues of elephant, the election symbol of BSP, have nothing to do with any public purpose except BSP supremo's egoistic attitude expression.

Secondly, Chhatrapati Shivaji may be an emotive idol for all the Marathas, but as an Odia I have no such respect for Shivaji Maharaj. Odisha was subjected to brutal attacks from Marathas, thus Odia people always have reservation against Maratha pride. But then as Odisha became part of India where Maharashtra too is a province, hence, all Odias respect the emotions of their fellow countrymen.

But, then I support the statue of Shivaji costing Rs 3600 crores. My point of view is different. I consider the expenditure as an investment to boost tourism in Maharashtra as well as India. It will also generate employment apart from contributing revenue to the GDP. Agree that such an amount could help in setting up a small irrigation project, but if similar point of view was taken into account then I am sure Taj Mahal could have never come into existence.

I have visited many South Indian states and observed the way every tourist places are developed into attractive locations. In Odisha also, there are lot of places which could be transformed into very attractive tourist locations. Many places have historic importance. But it appears that the Government of Odisha has never focused on development of these sites. That's why the state's tourism is limited to Puri only and that too due to Bengali tourists. Bengalis are devotees of Lord Jagannath and they are fond of Puri beach.

I always wished that had government focused on other tourist points in the state, it could have attracted more tourists to the state and both revenue and employment generation could have been boosted. It requires lot of money to develop such places to attract tourists and I don't think investing money in this sector is a waste at all.

From North Odisha to South Odisha, from Central Odisha to Western Odisha, there are lot of places, cultures and people which can be exhibited to the rest of India and World. If an investment to the tune of Rs 1 lac crore (for roads; Pantha Nivas, a typical motel at all tourist places; site developments and other necessary infra structures) is made, I think the cost would be recovered in just a decade. Even the government of Odisha can do such developments through Build Operate Transfer (BOT).

Coming back to the issue of Shivaji's statue in Maharashtra, it's always not a good idea to criticise every step and compare the cost with some other sector. Every project has its own importance. The people of Maharashtra are proud of Shivaji Maharaj! Residents of other states should not object to his statue.

Yes, the public sentiment is also important and if it is clubbed with a definite sector such as tourism, it becomes a win-win project. Let's wish early completion of this project.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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