Following the incident of boat mishap which carrying passengers to the site of the proposed Shivaji Statue in the Arabian Sea capsized after it hit a rock, experts have questioned the location of the project and also suggested saying the water around the site is not suitable for navigation and accessing the area would be unsafe both for construction purposes and for tourist visits later.
Vice-Admiral (retd) I C Rao of APLI Mumbai, a citizens’ group, said the Environment Impact Assessment Report of November 2014 submitted jointly by the National Institute Of Oceanography and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute has dealt with the aspect of “routes for boats”. Rao said the memorial site Shivaji Statue is unapproachable by any type of passenger boats at any time during the monsoon.
“The track shown from Gateway of India to the memorial site traverses over four exposed and two submerged wreckages. These are potentially dangerous to surface navigation. Marking the track without reference to the safety of navigation is reprehensible for a project of national importance,” he added.
“Pointing out these issues, we had written to the state government suggesting that the project is relocated to the Cross Island. But the government has not taken cognisance of our letter,” he added.
Soli Engineer, a marine expert and former executive director of Great Offshore Limited, also said there are rocks in the vicinity of the site, and the boat operators often don’t know about these rocks that are underwater during high tide.
“It is their foolishness if they still go ahead with the project. Who is going to pay for casualties like the one on Wednesday? This is the first one. How many more lives do they want?” he asked.
Environmentalist Debi Goenka also said the site location is completely wrong due to the impact it would have on the livelihood of the fishing community as well as on account of safety issues. “On Wednesday, the tidal waves were known and the weather conditions were usual, with no storm or wind. The mishap happened despite that.”
He asked why the state government is so keen to spend crores on the project. “Why can’t it repair the monuments that were built by Shivaji?” he asks.