The foundation stone of the memorial of Maratha emperor Shivaji was laid in Mumbai on Saturday. The ceremony was attended by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Maharashtra government has spent a whopping Rs 3,600 crore on the statue which is estimated to be higher than the Statue of Liberty in New York and Christ The Redeemer of Rio de Janeiro. Whether it is a wise decision or not, is up to you to decide.
However, instead of ‘investing’ the Rs 3,600 crore on the memorial, the Modi government could have spent the said amount in other sectors which need urgent attention. Here are five core areas which need could have done better with the money
1. Easing farmers’ woes: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often talked about the need to empower farmers of the country. Sadly, the incidents of farmer suicides refuse to cease. As per the data presented by MoS Agriculture Parshottam Rupala before the Rajya Sabha, a total of 229 farmers have committed suicides in this year. Out of these, Karnataka has reported 81 deaths whereas 57 farmers have ended their lives in Maharashtra. As a result, the Fadnavis government should have focussed more on the hapless farmers who are forced to take the extreme step due to financial woes.
2. Expansion of road network: Last month, it was reported that the Maharashtra government was planning to upgrade the 10,000 kms road network in the state. The total cost incurred to the exchequer would be around Rs 30,000 crore. Amid the demonetisation move, the state government could have put the project on hold and ensure greater connectivity to the people. For this, the government could have approached the Centre for more help in this direction.
3. Tackling water scarcity: The Maharashtra government launched the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan last year to make the state drought-free by 2019. The amount spent on Shivaji’s statue could be used to widen streams, build earthen dams and dig farm ponds. At the national level, states like Karnataka, Punjab and Haryana do struggle with water crisis and the funds allocated for the memorial could be used by the Centre.
4. Restoration of forts: According to IndiaSpend, the money spent on Shivaji’s statue could be used in restoring 300 forts in the state. The Devendra Fadnavis government in January had announced the same. The state and union government had joined hands in this direction. Out of these 300-odd forts, 90 of them are looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India, a central agency.
5. Electricity projects: The expenditure on Shivaji’s statue is five-times the fund needed to provide electricity to every nook and corner of the state. It is no secret that several areas of Maharashtra grapple with power cuts. PM Modi on Saturday unveiled projects which include generating electricity for 18,000 villages. Perhaps, this amount could serve as an additional bonus for the Modi government’s initiatives.