To the Chief Justice,
Hon. High Court of Mumbai,
First, we’d like to say that we mean no disrespect to the memory of Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who was a truly great and able King.
Having said that, we feel that the proposed statue/memorial to be built in the image of this great and able King, estimated to cost Rs.350 crores, is an unnecessary expense for the exchequer of the Government of Maharashtra.
As we all know, there has been a vastly insufficient monsoon, and on date, if we’re not mistaken, 27 districts in Maharashtra have been, or will soon be declared drought-hit. Starving Maharashtrian farmers, committing suicide has already been a matter of grave concern for the Government of the state. Surely, these funds could be better utilised saving some of these lives and livelihoods.
We also have, within Mumbai itself, a vast number of infrastructural difficulties, that need huge investments to be sorted out. The rapidly declining availability of potable water and usable power is a huge problem, for example.
The roads in our financial capital are a national disgrace. We could fix some of them.
We could certainly do with more schools/colleges, providing education to the underprivileged at no cost. These could all be named in memory of Chhatrapati Shivaji. There are a lot of pilot projects that give the underprivileged access to technology. The government could look into that. Even something as simple as providing Samsung phones under 5000 to underprivileged students would go a long way in improving the future of this country.
Another possible avenue for the use of surplus funds would be to strengthen and better equip our Police Force and Coast Guard. In light of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai last year, it is crucial to strengthen these arms of Government, as our security and our lives depend on them.
We have all studied the history of this great state. We are all Mumbaikars and Maharashtrians, and the state would possibly not exist in its current form without the far-reaching and visionary administrative abilities of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Since the proposed
statue/memorial is in the name of a ruler famous for this administrative ability, we owe it to his memory to ask if he himself
would approve of such wasteful expenditure in a drought year, especially when the city’s defences are not at full strength?
We’d also like to point out that in light of a track record of consistent cost over-runs and delays leading to price escalations in major construction projects undertaken by the Government, it is unlikely that the amount to be spent towards such a project will actually be limited to just Rs.350 Crores.
We, as concerned citizens of India and Maharashtra, and as Bombayites, Mumbaikars, Bambaiwallahs, pray that such a monument be disallowed, and the funds used for the benefit of the public, by taxing whom these funds have been generated.
We also pray that, if after addressing citizens-welfare/development/infrastructure issues, Maharashtra actually has such surplus funding, it be handed to a committee of eminent citizens who have by past action proved their concern for and commitment to the greater good of the citizens of Mumbai. These members may be selected at the discretion of the Hon. Court or by a popular poll, as the Hon. Court sees fit.
Vishal M. Dadlani, and the undersigned.
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