[Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the Museum, Exhibition and the Viewers’ Gallery, during the dedication of the ‘Statue of Unity’ to the Nation, on the occasion of the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, at Kevadiya, in Narmada District of Gujarat on October 31, 2018.]
Kevadiya (Gujarat): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated an imposing 182-metre statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel here and said the world's tallest monument will serve as a reminder about his courage to thwart conspiracy to disintegrate India.
The day coincided with the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel - first Home Minister of Independent India.
The giant monument, named as the 'Statue of Unity' and built on an islet Sadhu Bet near Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat's Narmada district, is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in the US and taller than the 153-metre Spring Temple Buddha in China.
The inaugural function was marked by a flypast by Air Force planes and helicopters and a cultural show.
Built in China at a cost of Rs 2,989 crore, the height of the statue is 182 metres, including the base of 25 metres.
"The world's tallest statue would remind the entire world, the future generations about the courage, capabilities and resolution of the person who did this holy work of thwarting the conspiracy to disintegrate Mother India into pieces," the prime minister said addressing a gathering after inaugurating the monument.
The Prime Minister also recalled Sardar Patel’s vision of the administrative services as a steel frame.
He described the Statue of Unity as a symbol of the self-respect of the farmers who gave soil from their land, and iron from their farming implements for the Statue. He said the aspirations of the youth of India can be achieved only through the mantra of “Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat.”
Prime Minister Modi later also visited the Museum and Exhibition, and the Viewers’ Gallery. The gallery, at 153 metres height, can accommodate upto 200 visitors at one time. It offers a spectacular view of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, its reservoir, and the Satpura and Vindhya mountain ranges.
Farmers, Tribals Protest
Over 1,500 farmers of four districts – Chhota Udepur, Panchmahals, Vadodara and Narmada – have threatened to drown themselves during the unveiling of the Statue of Unity because they have been waiting 11 years to be paid their dues for sugarcane they sold to a mill that later closed down. The dues add up to Rs 12 crore, according to Indian Express.
“We have our statue of unity here at the factory dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The new statue means nothing to us when farmers are still facing financial crisis because of the government’s apathy. For the last 11 years, we have been fighting but in vain,” Kaushik Patel, who had sold 389.73 tonne of sugarcane to the mill and is yet to be paid Rs 2.18 lakh, told Indian Express.
Posters of Modi with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani in a town near the statue were torn down or had the faces blackened at the weekend.
The Sarpanchs of 22 surrounding villages had warned Modi to stay away from the inauguration of the mammoth figure, which will push the 128 meter high Spring Temple Buddha in China into second place.
“We villagers are determined and would like to inform you that on October 31 you (Modi) are not welcome here. If you come here as an unwanted guest we won’t welcome you,” they said in an open letter sent to the district administration.
“You and your companies have not only destroyed the natural resources, but are openly and brazenly exploiting them for business", they said.
Sensing trouble, local police had detained a number of activists ahead of PM Modi's visit to the area to unveil the statue of Sardar Patel.
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