Athawale reviews work on Ambedkar memorial

Taking stock: Ramdas Athawale (centre) discusses the plan of the memorial with MMRDA officials.

Taking stock: Ramdas Athawale (centre) discusses the plan of the memorial with MMRDA officials.  

Project expected to be completed in two years, says Union Minister

Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale on Monday reviewed the proposed site for the memorial of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and discussed the progress of the project with officials of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

Mr. Athawale said the project is expected to be completed within two to two-and-a-half years. “The sculpture of Dr. Ambedkar was initially supposed to be 350 feet tall, but the height was later changed to 450 feet. The MMRDA has been working on this project. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was present at the bhoomi poojan ceremony of the site, should also be invited for its inauguration, irrespective of the ruling party in the State,” Mr. Athawale said.

Sonia Sethi, additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA, discussed the progress of the project with Mr. Athawale. “The Cabinet granted approval for increasing the height of the sculpture on January 15. The estimated cost subsequently rose to ₹1,089 crore from ₹763 crore. The permissions obtained earlier from the Environment Department and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will have to be obtained again for the revised structure,” she said.

Ms. Sethi said the permissions will be sought when the the new government’s first meeting with the BMC is held on February 28.

“In this meeting, administrative permissions will be obtained and the other permissions will be sought in the next two weeks. Construction will begin from March. The progress of the other four buildings is at 30%,” she said.

The memorial will include four halls, each with the capacity to hold 100 people, a meditation centre, a gallery, a research centre, a preserved natural lake and a larger assembly hall called the Chaitya Sabhagriha under the sculpture. The Chaitya Sabhagriha will have belongings of Dr. Ambedkar and information about his life on display through audio-visual mediums and can hold up to 1,800 people.

Mr. Athawale expressed concern about the sculpture being developed in China, in the light of the coronavirus crisis in the country. He suggested developing the sculpture in India, as it will create employment opportunities. MMRDA officials, however, clarified that the required infrastructure and machinery, as well as bronze needed for the sculpture, is only available in abundance in China.

Mr. Athawale suggested adding an entrance with a 15-foot statue of Gautam Buddha to the meditation centre along with a Bodhi tree from Bodh Gaya being planted near it, besides a well-paved road leading from Chaityabhoomi to the memorial.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 10:16:30 PM |

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