By Shriram Khadilkar
After a three-four year follow up on all fronts, the Shivaji Maharaj giant statue project in the Arabian Sea stands abandoned.
It was around mid-2008, that the government of Maharashtra announced its ambitious venture of an 'international memorial' for the Maratha king, Shivaji Maharaj; proposing its location around a kilometre off Marine Drive, overlooking Malabar Hill and Nariman Point in South Mumbai, India.
The project was started with the hunt for a suitable competent company that could execute the necessary construction for a project based in the sea.
The funny part was that the authorities that were, had decided to install a 309 feet tall statue of Shivaji Maharaj astride a horse. Why not 300 or 310 feet? And why sitting on a horse? Couldn’t our Shivaji Maharaj be standing on a ship? The decision-makers seem to have overlooked the fact that the Maratha King had a very strong wing of Navy under the able leadership of the great warrior Kanhoji Angre. This is a very strong line of thought that merits prime consideration. After all, when we think of a large project, purely in public interest, it must, foremost, gel with the ambiance or environment!
Now, that the project is at zero degree ground level due to objection taken by Central Govt. Ministry of Forests & Environment, and the government of Maharashtra has to rethink the positioning of this memorial, shouldn’t this blessing in disguise call for a wise and fine vision?
Not only must the location be decent and undisputed, but possibly only those bureaucrats must be involved in the new project, who sustain a vision of art and acknowledge the import of creativity.
An appropriate course of action would perhaps be to first approach some eminent sculptors of Maharashtra and explain the finer details of the project to them; instead of floating a tender for construction. It might also be helpful if the stalwarts proposed a model before the Govt. could move the project further.
The raison d'être for such a suggested move is that we really do not have any sculptors who have the requisite experience of working on a 309 feet sculpture. It would greatly aid the project, if many more sculptors would join hands on this project and the Govt. could make available technical support of the masters, who have the experience of creating huge sculptures. This would pronounce a two-fold benefit: several young sculptors would garner firsthand knowledge of the process of casting and creating a large sculpture and secondly, a memorial of fine blend of aesthetics and expertise could adorn our shores.