Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday dedicated to the nation a 182-metre statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the tallest in the world, and said it will be a reminder about the courage of a man who thwarted efforts to disintegrate India.
Gujarat Governor O P Kohli, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and BJP chief Amit Shah were present at the unveiling of the ‘Statue of Unity’.
The ceremony coincided with the 143rd birth anniversary of Patel, who was known as the ‘Iron Man of India’.
Lavishing praise on Patel for uniting over 500 princely states as India attained independence, Modi also made a pitch for the dream of ‘One India, Superior India’.
“This (statue) is a source of unity…with this sentiment we should march…and march with a dream to make the country ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ (One India, Superior India),” he said.
“The statue will remind those who question India’s existence that this nation was, is and will remain eternal,” the prime minister added.
Modi said his government was toiling in line with Patel’s dreams to create a “strong, alert and inclusive India”.
Referring to criticism over construction of the project, Modi said the BJP is censured even when it praises great leaders like Patel.
“Is it (praising great leaders) a crime?” Modi asked the gathering present at the unveiling ceremony.
“It was the sentiment of crores of Indians that the man who united the country should get the honour he deserved,” the prime minister said.
It was the responsibility of the people to give a befitting reply to efforts “aimed at dividing the country”, he said.
“The world’s tallest statue will remind the entire world, the future generations about the courage, capabilities and resolution of the person who did the holy work of thwarting the conspiracy to disintegrate Mother India into pieces,” Modi said.
Had Patel not united the country, people would need a visa to see lions in the Gir Forest National Park, pay homage at Somnath or view the Charminar in Hyderabad, the prime minister said.
The prime minister also stated that Patel had a mix of the diplomatic skills of Kautilya and the valour of warrior king Shivaji.
Modi described the ‘Statue of Unity’ as a symbol of the country’s engineering and technical capabilities.
“As Sardar Patel united the country geographically by merging erstwhile princely states, we have united the country economically by bringing in GST,” he said.
Hailing farmers, Modi said lakhs of them from across India came together, gave their tools and parts of their land to build the statue.
The imposing monument is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in the US and is built on an islet, Sadhu Bet, near the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat’s Narmada district.
In advertisements splashed across newspapers Wednesday, the government listed the world’s tall statues, including the Great Buddha in Thailand (91 metres), the Statue of Liberty in the US (97 metres), Japan’s Ushiku Daibutsu (110 metres), Myanmar’s Laykyun Setkyar (116 metres) and China’s Spring Temple Buddha (153 metres)
The Statue of Unity has been built using over 70,000 tonnes of cement, 18,500 tonnes of reinforcement steel, 6,000 tonnes of structural steel and 1,700 metric tonnes of bronze, which was used for the outer cladding of the structure.
A viewing gallery has been created at a height of 135 metres inside the statue to enable tourists to have a view of the dam and nearby mountain ranges.