Centre will tweak CRZ notification to pave way for Chhatrapati Shivaji statue

MUMBAI(DNA): The ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEF&CC) has issued a draft notification to amend the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification, 2011, allowing for reclamations and alterations to natural features such as rocks/hills in the exceptional cases of development of “memorials and monuments.”

The draft notification — currently seeking suggestions and objections — will effectively allow for construction of memorials or monuments in the sea paving the way for the ambitious Chhatrapati Shivaji equestrian statue and memorial in the Arabian Sea, stuck for want of a CRZ clearance. In its present form, the CRZ notification prohibits reclamations and activity in CRZ-IV (A) (the water area from Low Tide to 12 nautical miles on the seaward side) where the project has been planned. The draft notification also states that exceptional projects such as memorials/monuments and allied facilities in CRZ-IV (A) areas would require environmental safeguards. These would include justification for locating the project in CRZ area along with alternate sites, risk assessment reports and disaster management plans.

The easing of CRZ norms comes in the wake of Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ meeting with environment minister Prakash Javadekar last November to discuss the project’s clearances. Within a week of the meeting, Javadekar had announced that the ministry had given a green nod to the Rs 1,900-crore project. In the event the notification passes muster soon after the window for suggestions expires on February 11, the Maharashtra government would invite prime minister Narendra Modi for the memorial’s foundation stone laying ceremony. When asked if the draft notification to amend the CRZ notification has been issued to help the Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial project, Bishwanath Sinha, the ministry’s joint secretary said, “It is not specific to any particular project or any memorial.” Sinha also added, “But it cannot be denied that this notification would help the Shivaji memorial.”

According to a member of the CM-led high-level state committee monitoring the project in Maharashtra, Fadnavis had discussed in the committee’s meeting that the ministry would ease CRZ norms for the project soon. The meeting was attended by senior bureaucrats, National Institute of Oceanography, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and architects from Sir JJ School of Arts.

The plan to build a 312-feet long equestrian statue of Shivaji was promised by the Democratic Front government in their election manifesto nine years ago
The site finalised for the memorial is a 15.96-hectare rocky outcrop supported by 17.67 hectares of shallow submarine rock
The site stands 4m above sea during high tide and falls in the CRZ-IV zone
It is 2.5km away from Girgaum Chowpatty, 1.2km from Raj Bhavan and 2km away from Nariman Point
The memorial will have an art museum exhibiting scriptures, artifacts and documentaries on Shivaji, a marine aquarium, a garden, an amphitheatre and a cafetaria