Statue of Unity unveiled on Sardar Patel’s143rd birthday, is the world’s tallest statue. It is almost twice the height of statue of liberty and stands 182 meters tall. The monument is dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of Independent India who was also a political and social leader during the Independence movement. The monument is built by an army of 3000 workers, including 300 engineers who worked round the clock to complete it in just 42 months. Making it the one to be completed in the shortest time. It is built at an estimated cost of Rs 3000 crores. It is inspired by a real-life photograph of Sardar Patel in dhoti and jacket. Opinions of people who saw the ‘Iron Man’ in person were also consulted. The eye-popping artistry is designed by Padma Bhushan sculptor Ram V. Sutar, the project infrastructure is done by Larsen and Toubro (L&T) and bronze cladding by a Chinese foundry, the Jiangxi Toqine Company (JTQ).
The statue is likely to pose an aura of national unity and also inspire the people of our country to inculcate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s visionary ideologies of unity, patriotism, inclusive growth and good governance. He was crucial in the integration of 565 princely states into the Indian Union after independence. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), set up by Prime Minister Mr. Modi in 2011 arranged some 129 tonnes of iron implements from nearly 100 million farmers in 169,000 villages across all the states, a symbolic contribution used to construct the base of the statue. The statue is a three-layered structure. The innermost layer is made of reinforced cement concrete (RCC), comprising two towers 127 meters high that rise till the statue’s chest. The second layer is a steel structure and the third an 8 mm bronze cladding on the surface. The RCC towers, which at the bottom form Patel’s dhoti-clad legs, have two lifts each. Each lift can carry 26 people to the top in just above half a minute.
The cost of the memorial and alleged political motives behind it brought strong criticism from leading commentators. 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. a viewing gallery planned 150 meters of the way up the structure, offering panoramic views of the dam and the surrounding landscape. Lakhs of trees, more than 100-years-old, within the last year had to make way for the highway. The land, river and the forest that the avatar stands on, belongs to Adivasis. With a three-star hotel, museum and audio-visual gallery, the government has tried to build an entire ecosystem of tourism infrastructure, while the people are still awaiting their promised land.