On the 193rd anniversary of his birth, a likeness of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at 182 metres tall will be unveiled as the largest statue in the world bar none.
The “Iron Man of India”, a moniker the first deputy prime minister of the country earned through his commitment to national integration in the Forties, will in fact be clad entirely in bronze when dedicated by Shri Narendra Modi on Wednesday morning; 1,850 tonnes of bronze to be precise.
That figure is not the most mind-boggling concerned with the construction of the Statue of Unity, built on Sadhu Island, in the western state of Gujarat.
At 182 metres, the statue will measure twice the height of the Statue of Liberty and nine times that of the Angel of the North. It will be more than 50 metres taller than China’s Spring Temple Buddha, the world’s current record holder, at 128 metres.
Costing £226.9million and built in just 33 months, the semblance of the political and social leader consists of 1,700 tonnes of bronze, 18,500 of reinforced steel and 6,500 of structured steel - some crowd-sourced from local villages in the form of farming tools as part of a tribute to Patel's social work. The interior is filled with 180,000 cubic metres of concrete.
It towers over the nearby Narmada Dam, in the Shoolpaneshwar wildlife sanctuary, and will be connected by bridge to a museum and audio-visual gallery, three-star hotel and garden in Patel’s honour. There will also be a “laser, light and sound show on the efforts of Unification of India”.
The Statue of Unity website, which has given the structure the tagline, “the statue as grand as the stature”, says: “Built in less than five years, it is the world’s tallest, grandest and giant statue. It is a tribute to the man who united India, Sardar Patel.”
But the project has not been without its detractors, with some accusing Modi of expensive political maneuvering.
The statue's face was modelled on some 2,000 photos of Patel Credit: AP
Mohan Gurumurthy of the Centre for Policy Alternatives told the Telegraph in 2013 that Sardar Patel himself would have objected to money being spent in this way. “If he had been alive, Patel would never approve millions to be spent on his statue,” he said.
It is hoped the statue will bring wealth in the form of tourism to the area, with a viewing tower 150 metres up offering vistas across the remote, hilly terrain, including a reported “selfie point”. The state government is building a two-mile high way for tourists to reach the statue from the nearby town of Kevadia, while it can also be reached by boat across the Sardar Sarovar reservoir. There will also be a nearby helipad.
Built by Larsen and Toubro, the Statue of Unity has been designed to withstand winds of 180k/hour, akin to a category 3 storm, as well as 6.5 magnitude earthquakes.
Finishing touches have been put on the statue in recent weeks Credit: Getty
Sculptor Ram V Sutar consulted around 2,000 photos of Sardar Patel, as well as contacting historians and people who had seen him, to perfect the face of the statue.
Tickets to access the statue will cost R350 (£18.70) for adults and children
The Statue of Unity project said: “As a memorial to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the statue will not only remind every individual of our great nation's freedom struggle but will also inspire the people of our country to inculcate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's visionary ideologies of unity, patriotism, inclusive growth and good governance.
“This monument will not just be a mute memorial like the rest, but a fully functional, purpose-serving tribute that will spur all round socio-economic development, in the form of better connectivity, healthcare and education infrastructure, research centre for agriculture development and various tribal development initiatives.”
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