Tallest Statue in India
By Saivikrant Deshpande
One of the India’s sheer marvels of engineering, pieced together by an army of over 3000 workers, stands high and mighty on the banks of river Narmada. This statue which was built in the memory of the great Indian statesman Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, stands 182 metres (597 ft) tall, becoming the world’s tallest statue, twice the size of the pride of the United States of America – The Statue of Liberty. It is 54 metres taller than the Spring Temple Buddha in China’s Henan province which was proclaimed to be the world’s tallest until the construction of the Statue of Unity.Rightly named, ‘The Statue Of Unity’, has a core built with unused iron instruments collected from farmers all over the country. The Statue symbolises the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’, which was the ideology and mission of Sardar Patel’s life as a statesman. The statue, which was claimed to be ‘Gujarat’s contribution to the nation’, was inaugurated on 31st October 2018 to commemorate the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.
One of the most eye-catching features of this grand statue is that, the base which is 25 ft tall, is a centre for exhibitions and films showcasing Sardar Patel’s contribution in the integration of the republic of India, the Shoolpaneshwar wildlife sanctuary, and the importance of the Sardar Sarovar Dam situated on the Narmada River. The massive Sardar Patel statue costs somewhere in the vicinity of INR 30 billion.Along with commemoration, the other idea behind the construction of this mighty statue, is to develop a mega tourist attraction. A sense of patriotism and the importance of a United India is infused within the hearts of the each and every person who visits the Statue of Unity or even has a glimpse of it. The statue is estimated to remain in its current condition for at least a 1000 year. This means that it will continue contributing to the India’s national income through tourism for at least 10 centuries.
A unique feature of the Statue of Unity is that it is built using a Public Private Partnership model, which means that the public money spent on it is less than the private money spent on construction. A major chunk of the statue was financed by one of the country’s corporate giants Larsen & Toubro. Approximately 10% of the amount spent is contributed by the Government.
In addition to all the contributions this statue makes to the country, it also provides employment, directly and indirectly, to thousands of people in Narmada District and nearby areas. An estimated 10 Lakh and more tourists would visit the Statue of Unity every year. This will help in generating a huge income from tourism and transportation and other services. The entire construction and maintenance cost of the statue is expected to be recovered in the next 35-40 years.Though this Statue stands firm as the Pride of the nation. Many social activists, environment activists and political parties are of the opinion that it is a waste of money especially for a country like India. They argue that the Rs.200 crores that was released by the government for the construction of this statue could have been used for a variety of other causes like women’s safety, education and agricultural schemes.
Social Activists opposed the project stating that India suffers from natural calamities like floods and cyclones in many parts of the country like Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala. The money that was pumped in for the construction of this statue could have gone to address these problems of the masses. Environmental activists addressed a letter to the Central Government stating that project implementation started without clearance from the Environment Ministry.
Activists like Medha Patkar (who had and still opposes the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam), Gladson Dungdung (who has, time and again, fought for the rights of tribal groups), opposed the project because they said that the site for the project was a place of religious importance for the innumerable tribes who lived on that land. They also argued that Local Tribals were dislocated as their land was acquired for the construction of the Statue of Unity. However, the Government offered them cash and land compensation, and have been provided jobs before land acquisition for the project.Prime Minister Mr.Modi clarified his stand on the Construction of the Statue saying, “Certain things are beyond money. Legacy of Sardar Patel is one such thing. With some effort, it will be a money generator for the state from the tourism point of view.”
Sardar Patel was a stalwart of the country, a national icon. His legacy lives on within the hearts of the citizens of India and this mighty Statue of Unity is a constant reminder of the same. The statue depicts Sardar Patel’s iron strong will and nerve-wracking dedication to unite the country and looks forward to becoming India’s new iron magnet for tourism.A metaphor to represent the symbol of unity, in a country of 1.25 billion people out of which 70% rely on agriculture sector to earn themselves a secured livelihood.
With this vulnerable stature, the government decided to construct a statute which would make itself bring certain laurels in bringing the world’s tallest statue.Despite the fact that India is a country holding a 100 plus ranking in most of the world indexes be it in terms of corruption of development, With this stature, the government regardless of the country’s demographics decided to take such a move.
The statue does represent a legacy worth remembering but on what cost, that is something which needs to be solicited at the earliest. A blundered fact by the government on India ‘s economy claiming itself to be the world’s fastest economy, If this had been true why would country’s rural population still face problems like erratic electricity, low water supply and poor education and low employment generation.As a matter of fact, even if the statue generates revenue, what about the displacement of indigenous tribes and people’s right to self determination of religious places for worship being undermined as the very place serve to be of different religious purposes