Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled the Statue of Unity, built as a tribute to freedom movement icon Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 143rd birth anniversary today. Ready in a record 33 months, the Statue of Unity is located in the Narmada district of Gujarat. Against the picturesque backdrop of Vindhyachal and Satpura mountain ranges and the Narmada river, the giant memorial is the world’s tallest statue at 600 feet and is expected to be a major tourist destination in Gujarat.
Among Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s favourite projects, the statue is as much about himself as it is about Patel, a lifelong critic of wasteful expenditure. Modi has constantly claimed Patel’s legacy, given persistent Congress neglect of non-Gandhi-Nehru leaders in its pantheon.
Built at a cost of Rs. 2,989 crore, the statue depicts Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first Home Minister, wearing a traditional dhoti and shawl, towering over the Narmada River. Iron was collected from all over the country for the statue of Sardar Patel, also known as the Iron Man of India. Air Force planes showered flowers on the statue in a grand inaugural event on the banks of the Narmada river in Gujarat as PM Modi dedicated it to the nation.
At 182-metre, the statue is touted as the world’s tallest – it is 177 feet higher than China’s Spring Temple Buddha, currently the world’s tallest statue.
The statue has been designed by Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri recipient Ram Vanji Sutar, who also created the Mahatma Gandhi statue at the Indian Parliament, and has been built by Larsen and Toubro and the state-run Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. It took about 250 engineers and 3,400 labourers to construct the statue in 33 months.
The statue will have a viewing gallery at the height of 193 metres from the sea level which can accommodate 200 visitors at a time. This gallery, at 153 metres height, will offer a view of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, its reservoir, and the Satpura and Vindhya mountain ranges.
Tomorrow, on the Jayanti of Sardar Patel, the ‘Statue of Unity’ will be dedicated to the nation.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 30, 2018
A tribute to the great Sardar Patel! Dedicating the ‘Statue of Unity’ to the nation. Here’s my speech. https://t.co/OEDjhW1MrT
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 31, 2018
The Statue of Unity is so towering that even if you are 6-feet high the statue will still be 100 times larger than you. From the outside, the Sardar Patel statue is filled with 1,700 tonnes of bronze and 1,850 tonnes of bronze cladding made up of 565 macro and 6,000 micro panels. The core of the statue is made up of 210,000 cu.m. of cement concrete, 18,500 tonnes of reinforced steel and 6,500 tonnes of structural steel.
Beyond the specifics of party politics, Gujarat’s new statue, like New York’s Lady Liberty, can be viewed as an expression of collective values. Having helped negotiate the incorporation of more than 560 of colonial India’s princely states into a single union, Patel arguably represents a national political ideal (hence the monument’s full name, The Statue of Unity).
It is nearly twice as tall as New York’s Statue of Liberty.
Let’s see what people have to say about the newly standing ‘Statue Of Unity’ In India-
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
Successfully integrating 500 odd states each having their own agenda was a herculean task. That speaks of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s greatness!
— Priti Gandhi (@MrsGandhi) October 31, 2018
— Porinju Veliyath (@porinju) October 31, 2018
Tribal community affected by government’s irrationality and failure to uphold their rights have sent a message soaked in blood to @narendramodi . This is the cost tribal community will pay for your politics of appropriation in the name of #StatueofUnity.
— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) October 31, 2018
Iconography is important in the life of a Nation. The #StatueOfUnity just as significant as the Dalit pantheon of leaders in the #Ambedkarparks built by Mayawati. Can’t embrace one and criticise the other.
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) October 31, 2018
Ironic that a statue of Sardar Patel is being inaugurated, but every institution he helped build is being smashed. The systematic destruction of India’s institutions is nothing short of treason. #StatueOfUnity
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 31, 2018
The irony of this #StatueOfUnity . Stands tall in a state where a thousand lives were sacrificed to ensure a bloody political victory. And the man who looked the other way is inaugrating the statue.
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) October 31, 2018
The #StatueOfUnity is so tall that once you reach the top all you can see is Acchey Din
— Atul Khatri (@one_by_two) October 31, 2018
#StatueofUnity shows that things can be done in India with strong will power and vision. After building world’s tallest statue, time now is to make worlds biggest healthcare, education and infrastructure network in India. Can we exhibit similar zeal to build them?
— Akhilesh Sharma (@akhileshsharma1) October 31, 2018