Fisherfolk hold ‘sea rally’ in Mumbai against Shivaji memorial site

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Mumbai, May 25 (IANS) Hundreds of fisherfolk on Wednesday held a ‘sea rally’ to protest against the site selected for the proposed memorial to Chhatrapati Shivaji in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast.

The fishermen, in around 150 big and small boats that sported black flags, demanded that the state government re-consider the memorial site in view of probable damage to marine wealth in the region.

“We wish to clarify that the fisherfolk are not against the memorial that aims to honour Maharashtra’s great son, but we are definitely opposed to the site where it is going to be constructed,” said Paramparik Machhimar Seva Samiti president Rohit Pande.

He said the sea belongs to the fishing communities but the government has not taken them into confidence over the issue, compelling them to protest.

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Some fishing communities’ groups spoke to the government collectively and individually, but failed to get any satisfactory response, Pande claimed.

He said besides affecting their livelihood, other related issues pertaining to safety and security needed to be considered.

The statue would be located around a kilometre into the Arabian Sea off south Mumbai’s western side, with a driveway on one side and a small channel left open near the Raj Bhavan vicinity for the fishing boats to enter and exit.

Moreover, the islet selected for the memorial may not be sufficient and the project may entail reclamation since the islet submerges during high tide.

After securing pending clearances, the Maharashtra government plans to go ahead with the construction of the Rs.2,000 crore memorial that includes a 190-metre tall statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji. The Statue of Liberty outside the New York harbour is around 96 metres tall.

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