Ahmedabad: Amid protests by local villagers and severe criticism by Opposition parties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to unveil the Statue of Unity – the world’s tallest statue – in Gujarat’s Kevadiya on Wednesday.
The statue with a height of 182 metres (597 feet) will be inaugurated on the occasion of the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Elaborate security arrangements have also been put in place in Kevadiya, ahead of the inauguration.
Apprehending protests, the Gujarat Police on Tuesday detained several tribal leaders and activists in the Narmada district ahead of the inauguration of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel`s statue.
The police went knocking on the doors of several tribal activists and leaders in Kevadia, Rajpipla and Dediapada talukas (blocks), detaining them under IPC 68, fearing disruption of the government programmes on Wednesday.
It may be recalled that the villagers of Kevadia have recently written an open letter to the PM Narendra Modi stating that they won’t welcome him during the event on October 31.
According to PTI, the letter has been written by headmen of nearly 22 villages situated near the Sardar Sarovar Dam in which they also announced to boycott the event citing widespread destruction of natural resources due to the memorial,
Calling ‘Statue of Unity’ a sheer wastage of people’s money, the villagers said that people’s hard-earned money is being wasted on such projects at a time when several villages of the area are still deprived of basic facilities like schools, hospitals and drinking water.
The Gujarat Congress also targeted the BJP government and PM Modi over the non-completion of Narmada canal network.
Former Gujarat CM Shankersinh Vaghela too attacked the PM over the ‘Statue of Unity’ project and said that the PM should first unite vital institutions like the CBI and RBI before talking of unity.
Undeterred by the ongoing protests, PM Modi took to Twitter on Tuesday and said, “Tomorrow, on the Jayanti of Sardar Patel, the ‘Statue of Unity’ will be dedicated to the nation. The statue, which is on the banks of the Narmada is a fitting tribute to the great Sardar Patel.”
The imposing monument is twice the height of Statue of Liberty and is built on an islet, Sadhu Bet, near the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Narmada district.
Interestingly, the Statue of Unity is nearly 100 feet taller than China’s Spring Temple Buddha, which is currently the tallest statue with a height of 502 feet.
After PM Modi unveils the statue, three IAF planes would fly past and create the tricolour in the sky by emitting saffron, white and green colours.
The statue 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, according to the government statement.
The Prime Minister would also inaugurate the ‘Wall of Unity’ (a monument defining India’s unity) near the statue. After inaugurating the Wall of Unity, PM Modi would offer floral tributes to Patel.
On the occasion, cultural and musical programmes will be performed by the bands of the Gujarat Police, armed and paramilitary forces. There will also be dance and musical performances by artists drawn from 29 states and two Union Territories.
(With PTI inputs)