The Environment Ministry has given its go-ahead to the Maharashtra government’s plan to erect a statue of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji in the Arabian Sea, about 2.6 km off Mumbai coast.
The decision to grant environment clearance came on the recommendation of the Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) which had taken up the issue on Monday. It also happened to be the day when the 60-day deadline for people to raise their objection to an amendment to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification of 2011 came to an end.
This proposed amendment, the draft notification for which was issued on December 11, 2014, had allowed land reclamation in sea for construction of monuments and memorials, though only “in exceptional” cases.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar informed that he had granted his approval to the project two days ago. “We have made sure that the project has minimum environmental impact. It is an important project that is close to the heart of people in Maharashtra. And it is going to be very similar to the Statue of Liberty in the United States,” he said.
Interestingly, Javadekar insisted that the project, as cleared, would not involve any reclamation of land.
The December 11, 2014 draft amendment to the CRZ notification of 2011 was brought for the specific purpose of allowing reclamation of land for building monuments and memorials. The phrase “except for construction of memorials/monuments and allied facilities only in exceptional cases by the concerned state government, on a case to case basis” was inserted in the clause that seeks to prohibit “reclamation for commercial purposes such as shopping and housing complexes, hotels andentertainment activities” in a CRZ area.
The proposed amendments also allowed the utilisation of “rocks/hills/natural features” for development of memorials and monuments, something that is otherwise prohibited.