With double the height of Statue of Liberty, the Statue of Unity in the vicinity of Sardar Sarovar Dam in Narmada District, Gujarat stands as the befitting tribute to the Unifier of Modern India- Sardar Patel
Jaywant Pandya from Ahmedabad
It is a very unfortunate trend in the Bharatiya media that every initiative or action by the government is linked to elections. It is happening with the Statue of Unity too. It is linked with appeasing the Patidar community of which a section is agitating against the BJP in Gujarat. Critics conveniently forget that the idea of Statue of Unity was announced way back in 2010 when Shri Narendra Modi, present Prime Minister, was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Statue of Unity
The launch of the Project
The year 2010 was the year when Gujarat was celebrating the golden jubilee of its formation. Various people welfare projects including ‘Vanche Gujarat’ (Gujaratis should read books), ‘Samay Dan’ (Gujarati youth should allot 100 hours in a year in the field they choose, be it education, health services, cleanliness or environment) were being launched by Shri Modi. In the same year, on October 6, Shri Modi unveiled grandiose plan to build the world’s tallest 182 meters high Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s ‘Statue of Unity’ on Narmada River. It was the same year when Shri Modi was entering in the tenth year in the CM Office on October 7, 2010.
Unity Stands Tall
Shri Modi had said at that time: “I take this opportunity, coinciding with the golden jubilee of Gujarat’s formation, to declare my resolve to build a world-class statue befitting the stature of the Iron Man of India. It will be double the height of ‘Statue of Liberty’ in America and four times that of ‘Christ the Redeemer’ in Rio de Janeiro.”
“It is being named ‘Statue of Unity’ as it was the Sardar, who had united India at its most trying times after Independence, amalgamating nearly 550 princely states within the Union of India, and providing good governance as an able administrator in diverse fields like modern farming and empowerment of tribal communities, besides rebuilding the Somnath Temple.”
Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Vijay Rupani and Dy CM_Shri Nitinbhai Patel at the site
“The 182-metre (400 feet) high Statue of Unity will be built on the Sadhu Bet riverbed of the Narmada about 3-km from the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) dam, to be reached by boats. The site will be developed as a pilgrims’ centre for preserving the unity and integrity of India, its rich culture and heritage along with development – as a source of inspiration for ages to come. It will have a high-tech museum, chronicling 90 years history of India’s freedom fighters (1857-1947).”
With this project, the Government of Gujarat embarks on a sincere attempt to convey to all future generations, the idea of modern Indian nationhood that great visionary and his epochal contributions represent
Shri Modi has never forgotten every great or small revolutionary or freedom fighter who contributed to the Independence struggle of Bharat. In his tenures as CM, Mahatma Mandir was built at Gandhinagar, Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Memorial was built at Mandvi-Kutch, broadband connectivity from the venue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s historic Congress session at Haripura near Surat was launched.
Making of Statue
A section of the political class and media always tries to build a negative perception about Shri Modi’s ideas and plans. At that time, it was seen as another dream Shri Modi was trying to sell to win people’s heart for elections. But they were wrong. Now that eight years have passed, we can see the dream and ambition that Shri Modi had seen has become a reality. On October 31, 2013, on the auspicious day of Sardar Patel’s birthday, Shri Modi performed foundation laying ceremony, and the project is almost complete! That’s why he says, “Jin yojnaon ka shilanyas hum karate hain, unka udghatan bhi hum hi karate hain".
Shri Modi tried to underline its importance at the foundation-laying ceremony. “The world should know Sardar Saheb’s immense contribution in building India,” he said. “We should know our history to get inspired...we built Shaymji Krishna Verma memorial in Kutch, state-of-the-art convention centre, Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar, and revived tourism in Buddha circuit. Gandhi and Sardar did not belong to the BJP. They had no problem when I built Mahatma Mandir. But they (opponents) do not like me to build the Sardar Memorial. His legacy cannot be divided. It is ours.”
From the very point of proposing the project, Shri Modi was very clear about all the aspects – where, how and also why. It should be the tallest statue. It should be double the height of the current tallest structure (Statue of Liberty), kind of that matches the stature of Sardar. And, where but in the vicinity of Sardar Sarovar Dam in Narmada district.
There is a consortium of world-class construction companies that executed the project – Michael Graves Architecture and Designs, Turner Construction and Larsen & Toubro. Although Congress president Rahul Gandhi labelled it as ‘Made in China’, Gujarat Government refuted the allegation. Deputy Chief Minister Shri Nitinbhai Patel said: “The Statue was built by a reputed Indian company L&T after winning a global tender. Most of the materials used for it, including 70,000 tonnes of cement, 18,500 tonnes of reinforced steel, 6,000 tonnes of structured steel, 1,700 tonnes of copper have been taken from India. The Statue also has the old iron tools collected from farmers across India. Only 1,700 tonnes of bronze meant for giving the outer coat to the statue has been procured from China
Shri Narendra Modi made Bharatiya farmers participate in this project as Sardar Patel was a farmer too. On June 11, 2013, he announced a nationwide campaign to collect small pieces of iron from the farmers for using it to build proposed ‘Statue of Unity’. He said, “On the day of Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31, 2013, we will launch a nationwide campaign, covering more than five lakh villages throughout the country to collect small pieces of iron of any tool used by the farmers from each village, that will be used in the building of the statue.” In all, 135 tonnes of iron was donated by farmers to support the project, for which Modi’s slogan was “Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat” (One India, Noble India).
Man Behind the Statue
The man behind the Statue is Shri Ram Vanji Sutar, the 93-year-old sculptor. At a fine arts studio in Noida, Padma Bhushan Awardee sculptor, Shri Sutar along with his son, Anil Ram Sutar, have created countless of statues that have been established at historical sites and public places all over the globe.
Kevadia Colony and Sardar Sarovar dam themselves have already become the centre of a tourist attraction with Sardar Sarovar Dam view, Shoolpaneshwar wildlife sanctuary, Sunset point and other things. But now the Statue of Unity will be a major attraction for tourists. It is claimed that the Statue will be rust free for thousands of years. It is made of 85 per cent copper and other four metals. It is earthquake proof too. There is gallery made at heart of the Statue. Valley will be 17 km long.
To apprise the nation with the significance of the project, Ekta Yatra was launched in two phases. CM Shri Rupani flagged off the Yatra from Bardoli in South Gujarat to create awareness about Sardar Patel’s role in uniting Bharat. The mammoth public outreach programme being held in October and November in is to cover 10,000 villages.