1. At 182 metres, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Statue of Unity will be the tallest in the world. The Spring Temple Buddha in Henan, China, is currently the tallest statue at 153m, while the Statue of Liberty, in New York, stands at 93m and the famed Christ the Redeemer, in Rio de Janeiro, at 39.6 m.
2. Called Statue of Unity, it will come up on Sadhu-Bet Island, 3 kilometres south of the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia in the Narmada district of Gujarat. The observation deck at 500 feet will be able to accommodate 200 people at a time. The view at this level will include the Satpuda and Vindhyachal mountain ranges, the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir and the Garudeshwar Reservoir.
3. The construction will involve steel framing, reinforced cement concrete and bronze coating. It will require 75,000 cubic metres of concrete, 5700 metric tonne steel structure, 18,500 tonne reinforced steel rods and 22,500 tonne bronze sheets.
4. It will arguably also be the most expensive statue ever built anywhere in the world. The cost of the project is estimated at around $500 million. In comparison, the cost of the Spring Temple Buddha was $55 million, the Statue of Liberty was around $45 million at today’s prices, the Eiffel Tower at around $36 million in today’s prices, and Christ the Redeemer built in the 1930s cost under $5 million at today’s prices.
5. Larsen & Toubro (L&T) recently won the order to construct the statue at a cost of Rs 2979 crore. Of this, Rs 1347 crore will go towards building the statue, Rs 235 crore for constructing the exhibition and convention centres, Rs 134 crore for an R&D centre and Rs 83 crore for building a bridge connecting the memorial and the mainland.
6. This year’s Union Budget had also allocated Rs 200 crore to support the Gujarat government’s initiative. L&T’s share went up by 1.5 per cent on the stock market on the day of the announcement. “It will indeed be an honour and privilege to use our expertise to create a monument that is sure to evoke nationalistic pride in the heart of every Indian,” SN Subrahmanyan, member of the board of L&T, has been quoted as saying. They will complete the construction in 42 months. American giant Turner Construction, which built the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, is a consultant on the project.
7. The sculptor for the project has not yet been finalised. Initially, reports had stated that Joseph Menna, a classically trained American sculptor, who is more famous these days for his digital sculptures and work on toys and action figures, had been selected. In an email to us, however, he clarified that he was only hired to “create a digital proof of concept model for the project”.
8. A New York Times article later claimed that Ram V Sutar, the 89-year old legendary Gurgaon-based Indian sculptor, whose works include the Chambal monument and the Gandhi in Meditation statue in the Parliament complex, had been chosen. There has been no official announcement as yet.
9. In a bid to make the statue a true symbol of ‘unity’, soil samples and farm equipment from 7 lakh villages will be used at the site. Last year, 1000 trucks were sent out in December to collect the soil. So far, though, 16 states have contributed nothing, including BJP-ruled Rajasthan and the entire north-east. The project website says that nearly 3 lakh samples were collected, along with 700 tonnes of iron farm equipment.
10. The project has come under a lot of criticism. Danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has been among the vociferous, saying, “If Sardar Patel was here today, he would have wished for all Gujaratis to decide on how best to use this huge sum of money. My suggestion is to spend Rs 2500 crore to provide clean drinking water through a scheme, which can be named after him. This will be a greater tribute according to me instead of a statue.”