Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled the Statue of Unity, dedicated to freedom movement icon Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who served as the first home minister of independent India. PM Modi dedicated the statue to the nation, built at a massive cost of Rs. 2,989 crore. The statue shows Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, wearing a traditional dhoti and shawl, towering over the Narmada River.
On this occassion, PM Modi slammed those who have criticised the decision of building such a costly statue and said was it a crime to build such memorials for national heroes like Patel.
Take a look at some facts about the Statue of Unity:
The statue, at 182-metre, is touted to be the world’s tallest, 23 metres taller than China’s Spring Temple Buddha statue. The height of the Statue of Unity is also almost double the height of the Statue of Liberty (93 metres tall) in US.
The statue has been inaugurated on October 31, 2018, which also marks the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel. Located on the Sadhu Bet island, near Rajpipla on the Narmada river, the Statue of Unity is located between the Satpura and the Vindhya mountain ranges.
Designed by Padma Bhushan-winning sculptor Ram V Sutar, it has been built by Larsen and Toubro and the state-run Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. It took nearly 33 months for 250 engineers and 3,400 labourers to complete the statue. To provide better connectivity the government has also built a 3.5 km highway to connect the statue to Gujarat’s Kevadia town.
The statue has a viewing gallery at the height of 193 metres from the sea level which can accommodate 200 visitors at a time. Tourists can view the Sardar Sarovar Dam, its reservoir, and the Satpura and Vindhya mountain ranges, at a height of 153 meters through its gallery.
Along with the statue, the other five related sites include the ticket counter, the food court, the walkway, and the ‘Shrestha Bharat Bhavan’ – a 52-room three-star lodging facility for the visitors.
The project was announced by Gujarat chief minister, Modi, in 2010 ahead of civic elections in Ahmedabad. The project was funded by Gujarat government.
Reports suggest the Statue of Unity was built using 5700 Mton of structural steel and reinforcement bars of 18500 Mton.
The statue can withstand winds of speed up to 50 m/sec and earthquakes measuring up to 6.5 on the Richter Scale, at a depth of 10 km and within a radius of 12 km of the statue.
The cost of its maintenance is estimated to be Rs 12 lakh per day (or Rs 43.8 crore annually). The cost of ticket for an adult Indian is reported to beRs 120 and Rs 350 for entering viewing gallery.
As per media reports, the statue has not made an impact with tribals of the region who have grudges against the government for taking away the land that belonged to them. It is reported that the Statue of Unity project has adversely affected nearly 75,000 tribals.
Dr Praful Vasava, a tribal leader was quoted by IANS:
“No food will be cooked in 72 villages affected by the entire project, as we will be mourning on that day, for the project is being carried out for our destruction.”
Moreover, tribals have also threatened to drown themselves in Narmada over the project. Sarpanchs from 22 villages have also written an open letter to PM Modi confirming the boycott of the project.
As per another report, if the construction cost of the statue was utilised differently then the government could have built two new Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campuses, five Indian Institute of Management (IIM) campuses and six Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) missions to Mars.
Likewise, the funds could also have been used for renovation and restoration of many irrigation schemes.
A section of users on various social media platforms have tweeted against the statue saying that the cost has been too high. See some reactions:
This is truly age of ‘bhakti’ or hero worship! The many voices who attacked Mayawati for building Ambedkar statues and Nehru Gandhis for building family memorials are now finding unique ways to endorse Patel statue! Isse kehte hain Mumbai mein ‘double dholki’!! #StatueOfUnity
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) October 31, 2018
— Satish Acharya (@satishacharya) October 31, 2018
Sardar Patel Cancer Hospital,https://t.co/qhJ2MJFo37 visit Tata memorial hospital ‘s precarious situation.Cancer patients forced to sleep on d road.Oh Lord Ram save India from statue-politics.
— Apostate… (@arifmunnaRaza2) October 31, 2018
— Debasis Giri (@debasisgirii) October 31, 2018
#सरदार पटेल के विचारों की अवहेलना।#किसानों की जमीन पर 2019 चुनाव के लिए उनकी प्रतिमा।
Please share this short video on the *Real Cost of Sardar Patel Statue* that will be unveiled today: https://t.co/cFHQlOWDJ5@RahulGandhi @jigneshmevani80 @Nitinbhai_Patel @HardikPatel_
— dixit sardaben parmar (@dixitparmar19) October 31, 2018
Sardar Vallabhai Patel was a humble but a stern person! He would not have approved of such an extravagant expenditure on the construction of such a huge statue! And that also at the cost of the inconvenience and loss to the people living in the immediate surroundings!
— Sundar Nair (@NairSundar) October 31, 2018
Why not build schools colleges hospitals and name them after sardar patel. First you build a statue at inflated cost and then publish an ad on first page of all newspapers.. sheer wastage of taxpayers money
— khushi Sharma (@drkhushisharma) October 31, 2018
statue made at whopping cost of rs 3,000 crore! had sardar patel been alive hd he liked his own statue built at huge cost? this statue will be tallest for 3 years only. it will be overtaken by shivaji maharaj statue.
— devang (@devang5lanky) October 31, 2018