No space for Navy fighter jet; Thackeray statue to be installed at Colaba junction

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There is no space for a naval fighter jet to be put on display in Colaba, but a statue of late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray will soon be installed at a traffic island at the Regal Cinema junction, officially called Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Chowk. Local resident groups and the Navy had requested the BMC to allow the Navy to install a decommissioned fighter jet at the Regal Cinema junction, but the proposal has been rejected.

A senior civic official said representatives of the Navy also met Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, but the BMC told the officials that since the traffic islands are already occupied, and the proposal to install a Thackeray statute at the site was approved in 2016, there was no space for a fighter jet.

Everyone wants installations in South Mumbai. The Navy also has establishments in suburban Mumbai, so we asked them to install the aircraft there. We can’t have everything crammed in south Mumbai. Anyway, the traffic islands at the Regal Cinema junction are full,” said a senior civic official. Last year, residents groups too had backed the Navy’s request to display the fighter jet, even writing to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

In 2016, a proposal to install Thackeray’s statue at the traffic island had been passed. A senior civic official said a nod from City Collector Shivaji Jondhale was pending. “According to rules, permission from the collector is required to install any statue. That is pending,” the official said. Sena leaders said the party had already roped in architects. “The total height of the structure will be around 20 feet. The podium will be 11 feet, and Balasaheb’s statue will be 9 feet. We want to recreate the scene from the Sena’s Dussehra rally,” the leader said.

However another senior Sena functionary said there were delays. “It’s been over two years since the proposal was mooted and passed, but work has not begun. The current Sena leadership in the BMC must be held responsible,” he said. “We respect Balasaheb, but at the same time, the fighter jet must also be given some space. The Naval establishment is located next to this junction and there is a historic link between Colaba and the Navy, so this location is ideal for the jet,” Local BJP corporator Makarand Narwekar said. Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar did not respond to calls and text messages.

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