Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan today accused the BJP-led Maharashtra government of reducing the height of the proposed statue of Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji, to be constructed in the Arabian sea, from 160 metres to 126 metres.
The state government has been maintaining that the height of the statue would be 210 metres and that it would be the tallest statue in the world.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had performed the 'jal pujan' for the Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial project off the Mumbai coast, in December 2016.
Chavan alleged that no work on the project could begin since the 'jal pujan' because the state government secretly altered the project plan.
"The government claims that it has increased the height of the statuefrom 192 metres to 210 metres and that it would be the tallest statue in the world.
"But the fact is that the government reduced the height of the statue while increasing the height of its pedestal," the former chief minister said while addressing a press conference.
He said Union Environment Ministry on February 23, 2015, approved the height of the statue at 160 metres and that of the pedestal at 32 metres, which collectively comes at 192 metres.
"However, the government amended the project plan on December 23, 2016, and brought down the height of the statue to 126 metres while increasing the height of the pedestal to 84 metres. This means the government has reduced the height of the proposed bronze statue by 34 metres," said Chavan.
The Congress leader asked the government to explain why the project plan was altered even after the Environment Ministry had given its final nod.
"Is it true that the clearance for the revised plan has not been received yet? Did the government reduce the height of the bronze statueas a cost cutting measurebecause the financial condition of the state is not good? he asked.
Chavan wondered how could Shivaji's statue would be the tallest in the world at a time when the BJP is claiming that the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, coming up in Gujarat, will be the tallest one.
"IfSardar Patel's Statue of Unityin Gujarat is 157 metre tall then how could Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's statue would be the tallest one?" Chavan asked.
He accused the state government of playing politics in the name of the 17th Century Maratha king, who is revered across all sections of society in Maharashtra.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the Legislative Assembly that the government had not amended the project plan.
The proposed memorial is to be built on 6.8 hectares of reclaimed land in the middle of the Arabian sea.
Engineering major L&T recently bagged the Rs 2,500-crore contract for the project.
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