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Shivaji memorial planned outside Mumbai airport

Mumbai, July 9 (IANS) The Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) Friday announced that it would set up a grand memorial dedicated to Maharashtra’s warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji on the approach road to the airport.

Besides, the MIAL would also relocate and install the existing statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji from the precincts of the international airport terminal to a landscaped garden at a prominent spot near the terminal, a MIAL official said.

The proposal to relocate the statue had erupted into a political controversy with both the Shiv Sena and the Congress strongly opposing the move on grounds that it hurt the sentiments of Maharashtrians.

While the Sena representatives met MIAL officials and demanded that they re-install the statue, the Congress legislator from Vile Parle, Krishna Hegde urged Chief Minister Ashok Chavan to convene a meeting of all parties concerned to amicably resolve the issue.

The MIAL said that the statue – which was unveiled in 2002 by then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Sena chief Bal Thackeray – is located at the airpot’s international terminal. A new integrated passenger terminal is planned at that location which could necessitating the shifting of the statue to another location.

Accordingly, it has submitted a proposal to the Maharashtra government to consider the construction of a full-fledged memorial to celebrate the legacy of Chhatrapati Shivaji.

The MIAL has proposed two statues – the first one on a two-acre plot at the entrance to the airport from the Western Express Highway – while the existing statue is likely to be relocated to a landscaped garden in a prominent location near the approach to the airport on the international terminal on Sahar side, the official said.

The proposed memorial to Chhatrapati Shivaji would have a grand statue, waterfalls, landscaped gardens, a museum dedicated to the warrior king and a parking lot for visitors.

Similarly, the second venue would have the statue enhanced by landscaping, water bodies and fountains.

The MIAL said that it was fully committed to upholding the sentiments of the people of Maharashtra.

‘While modernising the CSIA, we shall take utmost precautions to ensure that Chhatrapati Shivaji’s association with the airport is promoted and cherished,’ the MIAL said.

Incidentally, after it comes up, this would become the first major memorial decided to Chhatrapati Shvaji in the northern part of Mumbai.

The Maharashtra government is planning to construct a grand memorial costing over one billion rupees in the Arabian Sea in south Mumbai, around 1.5 kms from the shoreline.

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