Dedicating the Statue of Unity to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said it is India’s reply to all those who question her existence and asked all citizens to remain united in countering efforts made by divisive forces.
Unveiling the 182-metre Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue here, Modi also hit out at his critics for politicising the mission for erecting the tallest monument.
“Statue of Unity is to remind all those who question India’s existence and its integrity. This country was, is and will always be eternal,” Modi said.
He said that the height of the statue is to remind the youth that the future of the country is in their aspirations and is as huge as this statue.
“The only mantra to fulfil these aspirations are ‘Ek Bharat-Shresth Bharat’ (One India, Best India). Statue of Unity is also symbolic of our engineering and technological affordability,” he added.
Keeping the nation’s unity, diversity and sovereignty intact is one such responsibility which Patel has given to the countrymen, Modi said.
“It’s our responsibility to give reply to every effort of dividing the country. We will have to remain vigilant and united as a society,” he said.
The Prime Minister also launched an attack on those opposing his mission of reviving contributions of historical figures like Sardar Patel, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Bhimrao Ambedkar and others.
“I am amazed that our efforts are seen with political specs. Praising great icons has also brought us criticism. It seems like we have committed a big crime,” he said.
Modi said that there were many who thought that a diverse country like India can never remain united after it got independence. But Sardar Patel proved them wrong and it was his contribution that the country now meets the world on its own terms and is moving towards becoming an economic and military superpower.
“They considered our diversity our biggest weakness but Sardar Patel converted this into our biggest strength. India is moving ahead on the path shown by him,” he said.
“If today we are connected from Rajasthan’s Kutch to Nagaland’s Kohima and Jammu and Kashmir’s Kargil to Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari, it is because of Patel’s strong resolve and determination.
“Had Sardar Patel not done it, the country would have needed visas for offering prayers at Somnath and visiting Charminar in Hyderabad,” he said recalling Patel’s effort in integrating over 550 princely states into the Indian Union after the Partition of 1947.
Unveiling the statue of the former Deputy Prime Minister built on Sadhu Bet Island on the Narmada river at a cost of Rs 2,389 crore, Modi touted it to be the world’s tallest — surpassing China’s Spring Temple Buddha that stands at 153 metres by 29 metres and nearly double of the 93-metre Statue of Liberty in New York.
Three Indian Air Force planes flew past the statue and created the Tricolour in the sky following the inauguration.
The Gujarat government expects the statue to boost tourism, with one estimate putting the daily numbers at 15,000.
Apart from the Patel bronze figure, other major attractions include a 17-km-long Valley of Flowers, a Tent City for tourists near the statue and a museum dedicated to the life and times of Patel.
The Tent City, located around four km from the Statue of Unity can house more than 500 tourists at a time.
A viewing gallery at a height of 153 metres has been created inside the statue to enable tourists to have a view of the 1,210 metre long concrete Sardar Sarovar Dam, 3.2 km upstream as well as the nearby Satpura and Vindhya mountain ranges.
As per a government statement, the statue has been built using over 70,000 tonne of cement, 18,500 tonne of reinforced steel, 6,000 tonne of structural steel and 1,700 tonne of bronze, which was used for the outer cladding of the structure.
Gujarat Governor O.P. Kohli, Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and BJP President Amit Shah were also present on the occasion.