As 2018 is the centenary year of Sai Baba attaining Samadhi at Shirdi, the Maharashtra government will seek the Centre’s help to have a grand commemoration on the lines of the Nanded Gurdwara, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said on Thursday.
He would head a committee and coordinate preparations, Mr. Chavan said inaugurating an ashram for visitors at Shirdi, facilitated by a donation from a devotee from Chennai, K.V. Ramani of the Shirdi Sai Trust.
Mr. Ramani’s contribution of Rs. 110 crore was used to build phase one of the Sai Ashram Bhakt Niwas which was inaugurated on the occasion of Gudi Padva or the Maharashtrian New Year. If there was an idea of constructing another building for the dharamshala, the government would be keen on helping out, Mr. Chavan said.
He felicitated Mr. Ramani for his social contribution and thanked Hanumantharao, MP, for his efforts to build the dharamshala.
In the ashram, spread over a five-acre area, there are 1,536 rooms in 12 buildings, of various categories, which can accommodate 6,144 visitors to the Sai Baba shrine. There is a community hall which can seat 2,000 persons at a time.
Phase II of the Sai Ashram accommodation project is being planned to accommodate 3,456 people. The Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi, presented a manpatra or letter of honour to Mr. Ramani. Sai Sansthan president Jayant Kulkarni handed over a cheque for Rs. 25 crore, on behalf of the Sansthan, to Mr. Chavan towards the Chief Minister’s drought relief fund. State Ministers Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and Harshavardhan Patil, Union Minister of State for Road Transport Sarve Satyanarayana and Andhra Pradesh Minister Ramchandra were present.