Bronze-Clad ‘Statue Of Unity’ Is The Tallest In The World
Kevadia (Gujarat): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday dedicated to the nation a towering statue of key independence leader and national icon Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The Statue of Unity, Modi said, is India’s reply to those who questioned its unity.
At 182 metres (597 feet), Patel’s bronze figure is one of the tallest statues in the world _ almost 10 stories higher than the 153-meter (501-foot) Spring Temple Buddha statue in China and nearly twice the height of the Statue of Liberty, which stands at 93 metres (305 feet).
The 42-month project built by 250 engineers and 3,000 workers began in 2013, when Modi was the top elected official in Gujarat. After he became prime minister in 2014, he pledged to complete it despite some critics balking at the nearly $403 million price tag, which they said could be better spent on welfare programs for India’s poor.
Unveiling the statue, Modi hit out at his critics for politicising the mission for erecting the monument and asked all citizens to remain united in countering efforts made by divisive forces.
“Statue of Unity is to remind all those who question India’s existence and its integrity. This country was, is and will always be eternal,” Modi said.
He said the height of the statue is to remind the youth that the future of the country is in their aspirations and is as huge as this statue.“The only mantra to fulfil these aspirations are ‘Ek Bharat-Shresth Bharat’ (One India, Best India). Statue of Unity is also symbolic of our engineering and technological affordability,” he added.
When Modi was unveiling the statue, twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty, thousands of tribals across the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat, including the Narmada district where the massive structure is located, were observing a pin-drop bandh.
Kitchen fires in homes of an estimated 75,000 Adivasis in 72 villages were cold, and in keeping with the convention of not cooking when mourning the dead.
The bandh was in protest against acquisition of their land without adequate compensation for the statue project, the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam and the Garudeswar weir, which is a part of the dam.
Tribal leader Praful Vasava, who has been leading the protest ever since the project was declared by Narendra Modi as a chief minister in 2013, said, “We are all for giving honour to Sardar Patel, but this is something which is at the cost of our very existence.” Sardar Patel would never have agreed to this, he said.
Around 72 villages are estimated to be affected by the statue project. There are 32 where their rehabilitation has been left half way, there are six villages where the Kevadia Colony housing the staff of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam project is situated and seven villages are in Garudeshwar block, where only cash compensation was given, but other commitments like land for land or jobs have not been fulfilled.
The Prime Minister said that keeping the nation’s unity, diversity and sovereignty intact was a responsibility which Patel gave to the countrymen.
The Prime Minister also launched an attack on those opposing his mission of reviving contributions of historical figures such as Sardar Patel, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Bhimrao Ambedkar and others.
“I am amazed that our efforts are seen with political glasses. Praising great icons has also brought us criticism. It seems we have committed a big crime,” he said.
Modi said Sardar disproved of all those who stated that a diverse country like India could remain united after Independence. It was because of Patel that the country now meets the world on its own terms and is moving towards becoming an economic and military superpower.
“They considered our diversity our biggest weakness, but Sardar Patel converted this into our biggest strength. India is moving ahead on the path shown by him,” he said.
“If today we are connected from Rajasthan’s Kutch to Nagaland’s Kohima and Jammu and Kashmir’s Kargil to Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari, it is because of Patel’s strong resolve and determination.