Thousands of Chinese workers are expected to arrive at Sadhu Bet in the Narmada District in Gujarat, India by the end of this year for starting work for the creation of the Statue of Unity, a project announced by the current Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi at the time when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The Statue of Unity is a huge sculpture dedicated to the great leader of the Indian Independence Movement, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. With an approximate height of 182 metres planned, the statue is expected to cover an area over 20,000 square metres and will be surrounded by a 12 square km artificial lake. The then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi on 31 October, 2013, that is, on the 138th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel laid the foundation stone of the statue. Also, he along with LK Advani made a public announcement that after the completion of the project, the statue will become the world’s tallest statue.
The Statue of Unity – A Dedicated Planned Move?
The Statue of Unity will be designed in a naturally and historically accurate representation of Sardar Patel, who is considered as one of the founding fathers of the Republic India, wearing characteristic garments in a walking stance. The project was first announced on 7 October,2010. Initially the cost estimated for the project by the Indian Government was about ₹3,001 crore. However, later Larsen & Toubro won the contract for its lowest bid of ₹2,989 crore in October,2014 for the design, construction and maintenance of the statue and commenced the construction for the same on 31 October, 2014. This exceptional monument designed by Ram V Sutar is now near completion and is expected to be inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi on 31 October,2018.
The Motive – Unifying the Country or Partnering with China?
For the construction of the statue a special purpose vehicle, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), was established by the Gujarat government. For the project, Modi had launched a nationwide farm tool collection drive in which the iron needed to make the statue was to be collected from the farmers of villages around India in the form of donation of their used farming instruments. This farm tool collection drive symbolic of “unifying the country” was named as the “Statue of Unity Movement”. For the construction of the statue the material required will include 75000 cubic metres of concrete, 5700 metric tonne steel structure, 18500 tonne reinforced steel rods and 22500 tonne bronze sheets. After the reports stating that the statue’s bronze parts will be made in a foundry in China came out, Indian National Congress, the opposition party in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, has criticized the project as defeating the “Make in India” initiative launched by Modi. Although the Gujarat government in their defence have said that they have no control over where the contractor company gets the material from. The statue faced a lot of opposition.
Larsen & Toubro Play Muse To The Project
Larsen & Toubro, the company that was contracted by the Gujarat government for the project, has sub-leased the bronze-cladding of the statue to TQ Art Foundry, part of the Jiangxi Toqine Company in Nachang. Thereby many Chinese workers are expected to arrive in Narmada district to assist L&T in the concrete construction of the statue core. Member secretary of SVPRET, K Srinivas in a recent interview has assured that they will be getting 25,000 pieces of Bronze from China. He also confirmed that the company is free to get the material from the best place possible. In order to justify their move L&T said in an official statement, “The entire statue itself is being built in India at the site and only the bronze cladding in the form of bronze plates is being sourced from China, which constitutes a negligible amount of less than 9% of the total value of project” The steel frame work which is also being procured from China will be “contoured in the form of the statue” and the “cladding will be a facade”.
When ₹2 billion was allocated for the statue in the 2014-15 Union Budget, several people and parties argued that such a great expenditure was granted for the statue and thus blaming the government for prioritising the creation of the statue rather than other basic necessities like women’s safety, education and other agricultural schemes.
Thus, if one believes the official statement made by the company then getting a marginal 9% of the total value project from China and the rest being built in India, one cannot really blame the government for the same