The Statue of Unity, which honours India’s first deputy prime minister, Sardar Vallabhai Patel will be unveiled on Wednesday, 31 October. The statue dedicated to the ‘Iron Man of India’ has been constructed on a river island called the Sadhu Bet on the Narmada river in Gujarat’s Kevadiya town. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the structure on the occasion of Sardar Patel’s 143rd birth anniversary, dedicating the Statue of Unity to the country.
At 182 metres, it is the tallest statue in the world, dwarfing the Spring Temple Buddha in China, currently the world's tallest statue at 128 metres. The tribute to Sardar Patel is also twice the size of the Statue of Liberty in New York city in United States.
The inauguration is scheduled for 11.30 am on Wednesday, and the statue will be open to public from Saturday, 3 November, according to India Today.
The inauguration ceremony is expected last three hours, after which Modi may return to Delhi, reported The Indian Express. Surya Kiran, an aerobatics demonstration team of the Indian Air Force, will perform aerobatics at the event, spreading out the Tricolour. A squadron of Jaguar fighter aircraft will also participate in the inauguration, while MI-17 helicopters will shower flowers on the Sardar Patel statue.
For the cultural programme, the prime minister will be welcomed by the bands of the armed forces, Gujarat Police, State Reserve Police Force, Central Reserve Police Force and Border Security Force, as well as by cultural troupes from 29 states and two Union Territories.
According to The Financial Express, folk dance performance from various states have been planned. Modi will also inaugurate the ‘Wall of Unity’ near the statue and also address a public gathering.
Infrastructure giant Larsen and Toubro was given the contract to construct the Statue of Unity. L&T said the construction of the raft of the structure began on 19 December, 2015, and was completed in 33 months.
The bronze statue, which cost nearly Rs 3,000 crore to construct, is being projected by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a symbol of unity and a message that the Congress underplayed the contributions of Sardar Patel towards the country in favour of the Nehru-Gandhi family. As a precursor to the unveiling event, the BJP conducted 'Ekta Yatras' (unity marches) across Gujarat from 19 to 29 October. The yatras carried a prototype of the Statue of Unity throughout the state.
With the Ekta Yatras, the BJP is believed to have virtually kicked off its campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Facing the Sardar Sarovar Dam, the statue has a viewing gallery at 153 meters from where visitors will be able to see the dam’s reservoir and the mountain ranges of Satpura and Vindhya. The Statue of Unity website states that after completion, the memorial will generate approximately 15,000 jobs for tribal people.
However, chiefs of 22 villages near the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Monday reportedly wrote an open letter to Modi, saying that villagers will not welcome him at the inauguration of the Statue of Unity. Local tribal leaders have also announced a boycott of the function, saying the natural resources were destroyed by the construction of the memorial.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Oct 31, 2018 07:19 AM