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The Indian government unveiled a project to build the world's tallest statue of the 16th-century king, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The 192-metre (630ft) tall statue of Shivaji will be twice the size of Statue of Liberty and will sit on a land reclaimed from the Arabia Sea off Mumbai coast.
At an estimated cost of about 36 billion rupees ($530m, £430m), the construction of the statue will be completed in 2019. The foundation stone for the proposed venture was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who often sees Shivaji as one of his inspirational figures.
"Even in the midst of struggle, Shivaji Maharaj [emperor] remained a torchbearer of good governance. So many aspects of his personality inspire us," said Modi. Once the colossal figurine is completed as per plan, it will overtake the 503ft Buddha statue in China.
"Shiv Smarak (the memorial) in the Arabian Sea will be the tallest memorial not only in the country but in the entire world," announced Devendra Fadnavis, the chief minister of Maharashtra – the state in which Mumbai is the capital.
Shivaji is a much-celebrated and revered ruler of the Maratha empire across the western state of Maharashtra for paving the way for the fall of the Mughal rule in India. Shivaji's dynasty was able to recapture most parts of India – some of the territories which are currently in Afghanistan and Pakistan – right up to the tip of the southern-most province.
Still, the project has attracted criticism in some corners over the manner in which the taxpayers' money is being spent. A petition filed on the crowd-sourcing website Change.org urged the government to reconsider the proposal. The petition, signed by about 35,000 people, read: "Apart from a waste of money, this statue is going to be terrible for the environment, for the traffic situation in South Bombay and a security nightmare.
"This is taxpayers' money and I am sure we would all like this money to be spent on something better – education, infrastructure, food...anything but a statue that is of no use to anyone. This is not what Shivaji would have wanted and I am sure we can find other ways to honour him."
2016.12.26 / 16:36