Is building Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial “waste of money”? Probably Not

Shivaji Memorial
Concept plan of the Shivaji Memorial in Arabian Sea. courtesy: Maharashtra government.

First broadly let’s understand the blueprint of this project:-

(1) The project has a master plan for 15.96 hector area in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast and covers detailed economical and viable study.

(2) The project would include a 192 meter statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the concept plan, which would be the highest in the world.

(3) It would also include an amphitheater and auditoriums which will have a capacity of 500 and 2000 respectively.

(4) The project includes an exhibition gallery, art museum and a world class aquarium.

(5) The project would include an exhaustive library portraying the life & times of the “Raje“.

(6) The statue would have the viewing galleries within itself at various levels.

(7) Administrative blocks would be built for higher managements and authorities.

(8) The project would have helipads, jetties, sea wall and breakwaters.

(9) Financial studies evaluating the revenue generation and financing mechanisms.

(10)Tourism plan to attract domestic and international visitors and improve the project attractiveness and revenue generation.

(11) Design of waste management system, Green building certification and security.

We consider that poverty is our greatest enemy and that’s true, but poverty cannot be eradicated by cutting off our budgets on something and simply doling that money to the people for free. At first, when we hear that Rs. 3600 crore is going to be spend on a memorial, all hell breaks loose and we feel agitated and consider this as waste of money without even a proper analysis. But we need to go deep and understand the benefit this project could offer, instead of just viewing things with a narrow vision.

Fundamentally poverty can be eradicated by steady source of employment and income and not by any distribution of free money. This project would fetch multiple historical, cultural and economical benefits:-

(a) The Shivaji Memorial would be a big tourist spot which attract local, national and international tourists.

(b) The project would provide huge employment to many people like labors, vendors, small restaurants, food sellers, etc. effectively people with lower income.

(c) Misguided fishermen holding agitation against the project have been made to understand how there will be no roadways to the memorial meaning visitors need to reach the memorial only by boats which would be run by these fishermen only. And they are convinced.

(d) With respect to environmental worries the project has been deemed as a green project since it would be built using the waste excavated for building 33.5-km-long Colaba-Seepz underground METRO line. It is estimated that 5–6 million cubic meter of hard rock will be pulled out for making the tunnel and building stations which further crushed will provide 10–12 million cubic meter of sand to be eventually used for this project.

(e) The project once completed will have a capacity to host more than 10,000 people. Now planning, managing, touring and guiding these tourists will need manpower and why cannot we see an employment opportunity here?

Analyze it yourselves if this project is going to provide income to how many families and does it not sound justified to erect a statue / memorial which would be source of livelihood for scores of people?

– We have Statue of Liberty in USA, but it is not wastage of money.

– We have Spring Temple Buddha in China, but it is not wastage of money.

– We have Cristo Redentor in Brazil, but it is not wastage of money.

– We have Eiffel tower in France, but it is not wastage of money.

– We have a statue of the Buddha Laykyun Sekkya in Myanmar, but it is not wastage of money.

– And then We have a statue of Shivaji Maharaj, but it is a wastage of money.

When we plan the Statue of Shivaji in India, we start agitating, “How could government waste so much money on a statue?” Some argue, “USA, France and China are developed countries, they can afford money on statues India cannot, in that case one needs to definitely check the economic condition of USA when Statue of Liberty was built & how and off course Brazil & Myanmar are rich countries but still they have their Cristo Redentor and the Buddha’s.

If “Wastage” is the analogy and the argument of these highly “qulified intellectuals“, no historical sites / monuments / wonders would ever have been built in our history. Imagine how could a Taj Mahal or a Kutub Minar or the Pyramids of Egypt or the Hanging garden of Babylon or even the khajuraho temples be ever built by this logic?

The world’s tallest statue would be dedicated to our very own Chhtrapati Shivaji Maharaj, it is not about spending Rs.3600 crore money to erect a statue of some petty politician or a cult figure. It is about erecting a statue of one of the most greatest and iconic kings India has ever produced and whose impact in history of our country cannot be measured by mere books or words. He has been the epitome of Indian culture, nationalism, respect for women, love for children, justice for the oppressed, saviors of the victims and the legend of the mightiest warriors who fills our heart with pride.

The memorial of Shivaji is not a plain statue. It is the symbol of our nationalism and symbol of our pride and shows us how gigantic melancholies can be turned into gigantic mirth by the strong will power of a man who had the tendency to win at any situation no matter how adverse the situation was.

Tourists from across the globe would visit the place and would know about Shivaji Maharaj and his great achievements, they will read and see the valor of Shivaji. The world knows about Alexander, Napoleon, and Julius Caesar and so will they now know the “Raje“.

Let us spread the “chronicles of Shivaji” through eternity, which has been long due.