Statue of Unity: Symbol of Pride or Wastage of Public Money?

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Described as a tribute to Indian engineering skills, the Statue of Unity depicting the 182 metres (597 ft) height iconic figure of Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, is located in Narmada District of Gujarat at a river Island facing the Narmada Dam. It is the tallest statue in the world and is 4 times the height of Statue of Liberty, New York (USA). The statue was unveiled on October 31, 2018 by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi. 

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The statue stands as the Pride of Nation but there are many who think that incurring Rs.2900 crores on it, has been a wastage of public money.

 

With the arguments in favour and against on the construction of this statue making rounds in the economic, social and political circles, the ‘Statue of Unity’ has become a hot topic of Group Discussion (GD) Round in final selection process of various competitive exams and at the MBA colleges GD-PI round. Before you decide to take your view in the GD round, read all about the Back ground, Key Facts, Pros and Cons on the topic ‘Statue of Unity: Symbol of Pride or Wastage of Public Money’ 

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Statue of Unity: Back Ground

  • Statue of Unity project was first announced on 7 October 2010
  • The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET) was established by the Gujarat government for construction of the statue.
  • Statue of Unity Movement – a drive was started to support the construction of the statue.
  • The Movement helped in collecting the iron required for the construction of statue. Indian farmers were asked to donate their used farming instruments
  • The movement helped in collecting 5,000 tonnes of iron. Although it was initially intended for the statue, it was later decided that the collected iron would instead be used for other parts of the project
  • The Statue of Unity Movement organised a Suraaj ("good governance") petition. The petition was signed by around 20 million people and was termed as the world's largest petition.
  • A marathon ‘Run For Unity’ was held on 15 December 2013 in several places throughout India
  • Statue’s Foundation stone was laid by Narendra Modi, the then serving Chief Minister of Gujarat on 31 October 2013, the 138th Birth Anniversary of Sardar Patel

Statue of Unity: Key Facts

  • The Statue of Unity is a statue of Indian statesman and first Dy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel who lived from 1875 to 1950
  • Known as the ‘Iron Man of India’ Sardar Patel was instrumental in the unification of hundreds of princely states that divided India into many parts. With his efforts the modern political boundary of India could be formed.
  • Located in the Narmada District of Gujarat, the Statue of Unity is the tallest statue in the world with 182 Metres (597 ft) height and is about four times the height of Statue of Liberty
  • The Statue of Unity is on a river-island facing the Narmada Dam (Sardar Sarovar Dam) near Rajpipla, about 100 Kms southwest of Vadodara city in Gujarat.
  • The Statue of Unity monument and its surroundings occupy more than 2 hectares (4.9 acres) area. It is surrounded by a 12 sq km artificial lake.
  • The Statue of Unity was built by Larsen & Toubro (L&T), who got the construction contract for ₹2,989 crore (US$420 million) for the design, construction, and maintenance in October 2014.
  • The construction of the project was started on 31 October 2014 and completed in mid-October 2018.
  • The Statue of Unity was designed by Indian sculptor Ram V Sutar
  • The Statue was dedicated to Nation by Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Bhai Modi on October 31, 2018 on the 143rd Birth Anniversary of Sardar Patel
  • The statue was built on a Public Private Partnership model. Most of the money was raised by the Government of Gujarat. The Government of India had allotted ₹3 billion (US$42 million) for the project in the budget from 2012 to 2016 
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Pride of India: Pros

  • Statue of Unity, the world’s highest statue is not only a tribute to the Iron Man of India, but also is the first such tourist attraction located in India and is termed ‘Pride of Nation’
  • A sense of patriotism and united India is infused within the hearts of the people who visit the Statue of Unity or even have a glimpse of it
  • The statue is estimated to remain as it is for 1000 years. It implies that it will continue contributing to the national income of India through tourism for 10 centuries
  • Since the Statue has been built on PPP model, the public money spent on it is less than the private money spent on it.
  • L&T spent the major part of the money in constructing the statue. Around 10% of the amount spent is contributed by the Government.
  • The Statue of Unity will help in increasing tourism income and a large area with Hotels, transport and other services will develop fast
  • Thousands of people in Narmada District and nearby areas will get employment opportunity directly or indirectly
  • It is estimated that more than 10 Lakh tourists will visit the Statue of Unity every year. This will help in generating huge income from tourism and transportation and other services. Entire money spent on the construction is expected to be recovered in the next 35-40 years.

Wastage of Money: Cons
Many Social Activists, environment activists and political parties despite agreeing that the Statue of Unity is a pride of nation are of the view that it is wastage of Money especially for a country like India. The reasons cited are:

  • The release of Rs.200 crores by the Government of India for the project attracted the ire of several people and political parties. They criticised the expenditure on the statue over other priorities like women's safety, education and agricultural schemes
  • L&T contracted with TQ Art Foundry – a subsidiary of the Jiangxi Toqine Company based in China – for the bronze cladding of the statue and spent huge amount. The move was criticised by the Indian national ongress and other opposition parties. However, It was clarified that 9 percent of the total value of the project was sourced from China.
  • Social Activists have opposed the project on the ground that India is suffering from natural calamities like floods and cyclones in many parts of the country e.g. Kerala, Orissa. Accordingly instead of putting in the money in the construction of statue, the money could have gone to address these problems of common people
  • There are other pressing needs in India – like education, health, safety, employment. The money could have been utilized in these sectors
  • Local Tribals were dislocated as their land was acquired for the construction of the statue. The Tadvi tribe opposed land acquisition for the development of tourism infrastructure around the statue. However, they were offered cash and land compensation, and have been provided jobs before land acquisition
  • Activists like Medha Patkar, Gladson Dungdung opposed the project on the ground that it was a place of religious importance, so the statue should not be built on the land
  • Environmental activists wrote a letter to the central government contending that project implementation started without clearance from the Environment Ministry.
  • People of Kevadia, Kothi, Waghodia, Limbdi, Navagam, and Gora villages opposed the construction of the statue and demanded the restitution of the land rights over 375 hectares (927 acres) of land acquired earlier for the dam.

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