Nearly Rs 3,000 crore has been spent on it, and hundreds – if not thousands – of tribals have been affected by it, but the Modi govt has not stopped waxing on about the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Statue of Unity. Here is everything you need to know before PM Modi inaugurates it today, 31 October. Listen in!
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil the Statue of Unity at Kevadia in Gujarat’s Narmada district on Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary, that is 31st October. Modi was also the one who laid the foundation stone for the statue, way back in 2013.
Built by Larsen & Toubro limited, the Statue of Unity cost 2,989 crore rupees, and required 3,000 workers to complete. It is made of over 3,550 tonnes of bronze with an interior filled with concrete, reinforced steel and structured steel.
Two high-speed passenger elevators inside the statue will take visitors up to its chest. The statue’s chest houses a viewing gallery which can accommodate approximately 200 tourists at a time.
With a three-star hotel, a museum and an audio visual gallery, the government has tried to build an entire ecosystem of tourism infrastructure around the statue. The government has spared no expense in also building a three and a half kilometer highway which leads from nearby Kevadia to the statue.
But that said, the government has come under heavy fire for spending extravagantly on the statue, which costs an approximate 395 million dollars.
The heads of 22 villages near the Sardar Sarovar Dam have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi which says villagers will not welcome him at the inauguration of the Statue of Unity on 31st October.
Local tribal leaders have also announced a boycott of the function citing destruction of natural resources due to the memorial. Local tribal welfare leaders say that the government promised them a number of things in exchange for the land and resources to construct the statue, including the building of the Birsa Munda tribal university for tribals – but haven't delivered.
Apart from the local population who are the biggest victims of the statue, former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankersinh Vaghela also hit out at the Modi govt, mocking the prime minister on his ambitious Statue of Unity project dubbing it a "marketing gimmick" and asked him to first “unite” the CBI and the RBI.
Vaghela said, “I see the unveiling of the Statue of Unity as a desperate attempt by the BJP to gain political mileage and nothing else. They are losing public support. The project costs around Rs 3,000 crore. It’s a sheer waste and unproductive expense of public money while Gujarat is laden with a public debt of Rs 2,50,000 crore."
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