Over 500 fishermen, living in the vicinity of the site proposed for putting up a memorial for Shivaji in the Arabian Sea, on Wednesday organised a protest rally by sailing out in boats to oppose the location of the project, which they said would be a “bane” for them.
The rally kicked off from Badhwar Park in South Mumbai and passed by Nariman point before culminating at the proposed site of the memorial.
The fisher folk demanded rehabilitation of their community members who will be impacted by the construction for the memorial before starting the work. The joint rally was organised by the Paramparik Machhimar Seva Samiti (PMSS) along with the Machhimar Sarvoday Society.
‘Livelihood at stake’ The fishermen clarified that they were not against the construction of the memorial per se but the site which they said will “jeopardise” the livelihood of 3,500-odd fishermen.
PMSS chief mentor Rohit Pandey said: “It is now clear the government has ignored our serious concerns that fishermen’s livelihood will be hampered in the long term as fishing is their only source of earning.”
Mr. Pandey said the construction of the statue may be a “boon” for the tourism industry, but it will definitely be a “bane” for fishing.
“In their nets fishermen get prawns and other fish, but when the memorial is completed, tourist boats coming to that area will damage fishermen’s nets and create difficulties for fishing,” he added.
‘Tallest statue’ In its budget, the Maharashtra government recently announced Rs. 100 crore for the construction of the memorial dedicated to the Maratha warrior king.
The memorial, estimated to cost Rs.1,900 crore, is proposed to come up on an islet in the sea. It will boast the world’s tallest statue — a 192-metre statue of Shivaji— surrounded by an art museum, an amphitheatre, auditorium, exhibition gallery and other features.