Justifying its decision to construct a 192-metre high statue of warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji in the Arabian Sea, the Maharashtra government today told the Bombay High Court that it would be an asset and was not a political stunt. The government today filed an affidavit before a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice N M Jamdar in response to a PIL challenging the proposed Shivaji memorial to be built at a cost of Rs 3,600 crore. “The government denies that decision to construct the memorial is a political stunt by the ruling party. It has been the government’s endeavour to dedicate memorials to people who have contributed so much for the state of Maharashtra in the past,” the affidavit filed by Sachin Chivate, deputy secretary, state Public Works Department, said. “I say that the expenses of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial statue is a capital expenditure and is an asset to the state government,” it said.
It added that the cost of the construction of the statute will not affect the sanctioned revenue expenditure of the state government. “The total sanctioned capital expenditure in the year 2017-18 is Rs 35,504 crore. Therefore it is possible to make provision for Rs 3,600 crore over a span of three years for the statue,” the affidavit said. It also said the government was taking all steps to protect and restore existing monuments and forts in the state and budgetary allocations are made every year for the same.
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The PIL filed by city resident Mohan Bhide claimed that the government’s decision to spend Rs 3,600 crore on such a project is “illogical and uncalled for.” Bhide’s lawyer Ketan Parekh said the government should spend money towards other important issues first. The petition has sought the high court to “scrap, cancel, set aside and quash the project.” The HC is likely to take up the petition for further hearing after two weeks.