The most respected Satyagraha of Kheda and Bardoli, freedom fighter, Shri Vallabhbhai Patel, has been immortalised through the world’s tallest statue of the great leader, standing at 182 metres in height- Statue Of Unity! The statue beat the height of Spring Temple Buddha in China, that stands at 153 metres, the tallest till now!
An honourable tribute by Honourable Prime minister Shri Narendra Modi, this is a depiction of remembrance of the grit, determination and courage that Vallabhbhai Patel exhibited in uniting 562 diverse princely states into what the Republic of India is today.
“The Statue will stand high, not just in meters and feet, but much more in terms of academic, historical, national and spiritual values. My vision is to develop the place as a source of inspiration for ages to come.”- Shri Narendra Modi
Facing the Narmada Dam, tall and grand, the statute of unity, stands 3.2 km away on the river island called Sadhu Bet near Rajpipla in Gujarat, surrounded by a 12 square km artificial lake. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), a special purpose organisation was established by the Government of Gujarat for its construction and the outreach programme was carried out across India starting December 2013.
The Architectural Cost
Initially the total cost of the project was estimated to be about ₹3,001 crore (US$420 million) by the Government of India. Later Larsen & Toubro won the contract in October 2014 for its lowest bid of ₹2,989 crore (US$420 million) for the design, construction and maintenance. The construction was started on 31 October 2013 and will be inaugurated on 31 October 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
What All Went Into It’s Construction?
- The iron needed for the statue and other structures was to be collected from farmers of villages all around India in a form of donation of their used farming instruments.
- SVPRET set up 36 offices across India to collect these iron instruments wherein over 500,000 Indian farmers were expected to donate. The drive was named the ‘Statue of Unity movement’.
- There was to be three-months-long nationwide campaign to collect iron pieces from 600,000 villages to build the statue. During this period, over 5,000 tonnes of iron were collected.
- The Statue of Unity Movement had organised a Suraaj (good governance in Hindi) petition wherein people wrote about their ideas for the good governance.
- The Suraaj Petition was signed by an estimated 20 million people, which was the world’s largest petition signed.
- A marathon entitled Run For Unity was held on 15 December 2013 in several places throughout India. The marathon had a large turnout and sign-ups before the event and reported thousands of registrations.
The Statue of Unity, As It Stands!
- The Statue of Unity is designed as an accurate representation of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, wearing his characteristic garments, in a walking stance.
- Bronze cladding on the Statue.
- Fast elevators to reduce transit time for visitors.
- The three-level base of the Statue: exhibit floor, mezzanine and roof – will contain a Memorial Garden and a large continuous museum/exhibition hall, comprising exhibits that focus on the life and contributions of Vallabhbhai Patel.
- The observation deck, situated at a height of around 500 ft from river bed, will accommodate up to 200 people at a time.
- It will provide visitors a panoramic view, enabling them to see the Satpura and Vindhyachal mountain ranges, the 212 km long Sardar Sarovar Reservoir, and the 12 km long Garudeshwar Reservoir.
- Access to the Statue via a 5 km boat ride.
- A large canopied public plaza, overlooking the Narmada River and the Statue, comprising food stalls, gift shops, retail kiosks and other amenities.
Here’s How The Statue Will Be Unveiled
“We have invited dance troupes from across the country to perform here during the inauguration. Air Force planes and helicopters would shower flowers on the statue during unveiling. I am here today to see how we can synchronise them” Gujarat Chief Secretary JN Singh said.
In the wake of the statue’s inauguration tomorrow. 31st October 2018, there have been reactions against the it. The heads of 22 villages near the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Monday wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating their displeasure and voicing that the villagers would not welcome him at the inauguration of the Statue of Unity. Local tribal leaders have also announced a boycott of the function citing destruction of natural resources due to the memorial, as the major reason.
The reason for the protest isn’t completely unreasonable. They alleged that despite them not being provided basic living amenities as schools, hospitals… even drinking water, their hard earned money is being splurged on the statute.
“These forests, rivers, waterfalls, land and agriculture supported us for generations. We survived on them. But, everything is being destroyed now and celebrations are also planned. Don’t you think its akin to celebrating someone’s death? We feel so,” the letter, having common content and signed by Sarpanchas of 22 villages, stated.
How the unveiling will unfold, is yet to be seen. Though a staunch believer in applauding our great freedom fighters, I do also feel, empathy towards the natural environment should not be overlooked!