By Samikhsya Team
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday unveiled the Statue of Unity, built as a tribute to India’s first deputy prime minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the Narmada district of Gujarat.
With a height of 182 metres, the Statue of Unity is the tallest statue in the world. An engineering marvel, it was completed in a record time of 33 months.
Here are some interesting facts relating to the statue near the Narmada river, which the government hopes to become a major tourist destination:
- Built at an estimated cost of Rs.2,989 crore, the Statue of Unity displaces China’s Spring Temple Buddha, which has a height of 153 metres, from its position as the tallest statue in the world. It is also twice as tall as the world famous Statue of Liberty in USA.
- Construction giant Larsen & Toubro (L&T) executed the project with the help of 250 engineers and over 3,000 workers, a large chunk of them Chinese. The Statue of Unity is filled with 1,700 tonnes of bronze and 1,850 tonnes of bronze cladding constructed with 6,565 macro and micro panels. A whopping 2,10,000 cubic metres of cement concrete, 18,500 tonnes of reinforced steel and 6,500 tonnes of structural steel were used in the making of the statue. The bronze panels, however, had to be cast in a foundry in China with the help of Chinese workers as India lacks such facilities, which made critics say that the statue was ‘Made in China’.
- L&T took the services of Padma Bhushan awardee sculptor Ram V. Sutar, who designed the statue by going through over 2,000 archival photographs of the Sardar to understand his facial features.
- A total of 185 families had to be displaced by the Gujarat government to make way for the statue. The government claims they were compensated and given 1,200 acres of land. But local tribal leaders boycotted the inauguration function claiming that the construction of the statue cause destruction of natural resources.
- Authorities expect around 15,000 visitors everyday once the Statue of Unity is open to the public. The statue has a viewing gallery having a space for 200 people. It has a museum having around 40,000 documents and 2,000 photographs relating to the Iron Man of India. The complex also has a research centre dedicated to him.
- But critics say that economically it would be a monumental failure. Writing a piece in The Print, YouTuber Dhruv Rathi crunches data to claim that even if the statue is as popular as Taj Mahal, India’s most popular tourist destination, it would take 120 years just to break even. Taj Mahal earns an annual revenue of Rs.25 crore from 8 million visitors.
- India Spend, India’s first data journalism portal, says that with the money spent in the Statue of Unity, the government could very well have funded “two new Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campuses, five Indian Institute of Management (IIM) campuses and six Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) missions to Mars.”