The Statue of Unity, a tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. At 182m (about 597 feet), it is the tallest statue in the world, about twice the size of the Statue of Liberty.
Built at an estimated cost of Rs 2,989 crore, it is located on a hillock known as Sadhu Bet in Gujarat’s Kewadia. It towers over the Narmada River and is about three kilometres from the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
Why Statue Of Unity?
Its unveiling commemorated the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first Home Minister. Known as the Iron Man of India, Sardar Patel is credited with uniting over 550 princely states under the Indian Dominion into independent India.
Prime Minister Modi said that Sardar Patel had become the Home Minister at the most crucial time in the nation’s history. He unified India and stopped it from disintegration, he pointed out.
Sardar Patel, one of the tallest leaders of his time and an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi, was also a prominent member of the Constituent Assembly of India. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1991.
His birth anniversary is observed as the National Unity Day (Rashtriya Ekta Diwas). The week is marked as the Vigilance Awareness Week.
Statue Of Unity Design
The statue has been designed by renowned sculptor Ram Vanji Sutar who was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2016. The 93-year-old’s first major work was the statue of Goddess Chambal at the Gandhi Sagar Dam in Madhya Pradesh.
Many of his statues of national figures, including one of Mahatma Gandhi in a meditative pose, can be seen in Parliament House.
The sculptor, who works out of a studio in Noida along with his son Anil Sutar, had told Hindustan Times in September that the Sardar Patel statue was by far “the most challenging project” that he had undertaken.
“Every muscle has to be sculpted finely with the right texture,” Sutar was quoted as saying. Not surprisingly, he took about a year to create the final model of the statue.
Construction Of The Statue Of Unity
The ambitious project was conceived in 2010; its foundation stone was laid in 2013. Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat during the period.
While the model was made in the Noida studio, it was cast in a foundry in China’s Nanchang, using nearly 177 tons of bronze cladding for the exterior. A concrete and iron shell was forged for the internal structure.
The iron used in the statue was crowd-sources from farmers who donated implements and tools as part of a country-wide “Loha Campaign”. Prime Minister Modi thanked tribals from the area, and farmers and villagers from across the country, for their contribution.
A consortium of companies including Larsen & Toubro was involved in the construction at the site of the statue. Over 3,000 workers are reported to have worked at the site to make the project a reality.
The structure (58m base + 182m statue) can withstand wind speeds up to 50m/sec and earthquakes up to 6.5 on the Richter Scale.
Statue Of Unity As A Tourist Attraction
The statue has a viewing gallery at a height of 153 metres that offers a view of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, its reservoirs, and the surrounding mountain ranges. It can accommodate about 200 visitors at a time.
A Valley of Flowers has also been developed as part of the complex.
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) October 30, 2018
The Prime Minister also inaugurated the Wall of Unity in the statue complex.