Gujarat races against time to ready mega Patel statue

Work in progress at the Statue of Unity on Sadhu Bet island near Vadodara in Gujarat. DH Photo/Sagar Kulkarni

It is a race against time for the Gujarat government as it chases the stiff October 31 deadline for completion of one of its most ambitious projects — the Statue of Unity, dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, which, at 182 metres, will be the tallest statue in the world.

Nearly 3,400 workers and 250 engineers are working at a frenetic pace round the clock to complete the bronze-cladding statue, four-lane highways connecting it to Vadodara, two tent cities for tourists that will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31, the birth anniversary of Patel, who is credited with ensuring the merger of 585 princely states with India after Independence.

Located on an island — Sadhu Bet — created after flattening a hillock at the intersection of the Satpura and the Vindhyanchal mountain ranges, it is about 3.5 km from the 138-metre high Sardar Sarovar Dam. The statue is located about 95 km from Vadodara.

At the base of the statue would be an audio-visual museum dedicated to Patel, showing various aspects of his life, through 15-minute presentations and pavilions on the tribal culture of Gujarat. The museum will have 40,000 documents, 2,000 photographs and a research centre dedicated to Sardar Patel’s life.

The museum would be a place to keep tourists engaged as they await their turn to take the elevators located in the two legs of the statue that would take them to the viewers’ gallery at chest height of the statue at a height of 157 metres. The gallery can accommodate 200 visitors at a time.

“Special attention was given to the expression of the statue, the posture that reflects the dignity of the person. The head is held high that exudes confidence as well as kindness. A shadow analysis on the location was also conducted to ensure that the face gets maximum natural light at all times of the day,” S S Rathore, the chairman-cum-managing director of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited, which is executing the project, told DH here.

The Gujarat government has drawn up elaborate plans to turn the remote mountain ranges into a bustling tourist hub with hotels, tent city and adventure trails for visitors.

A 52-room three-star hotel — Shreshta Bharat Bhawan — is taking shape near the statue. It would be equipped with conference facilities and could be used by corporates for off-site meetings, a senior official
said.

The core of the statue is made up of reinforced concrete, but its surface that gives it a distinct design, has been created using 553 bronze panels, with each panel having 10 to 15 micro panels.

“All the bronze panels have been cast in the Jiagxi Tongquing Metal Handicrafts Co foundry in China,” R G Kanungo, superintending engineer, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, said.

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Gujarat races against time to ready mega Patel statue

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