At 182 meters, not just in height, but it will also stand tall for historical, academic, national and spiritual values. It will be the first such big project in any tribal part of India and dedicated to subjects close to Sardar saab – unity, good governance and agriculture” – Nitin Patel , Deputy CM , Gujarat
Yes , you read that right.
The 2989cr ” Statue Of Unity ” situated at Sardar Sarovar Dam, Kevadia spread over 20,000 square meters and surrounded by an artificial lake spread across 12km is not such an architecture marvel after all – it is a bigger replica of the Sardar Patel statue at the Ahmadabad International Air Port.
Doesn’t the whole thing sound preposterous – constructing a towering REPLICA in the middle of nowhere after acquisition of lands from the tribals who have been cultivating in those lands for generations and all this talk about good governance (!!) and AGRICULTURE (!!!!!) to top it all? Currently, out of the 72 villages affected because of the Statue of Unity project, 32 villages have been severely affected with rehabilitation allegedly not completed or even initiated yet.
Now, the Gujarat government is looking to connect Sardarji by air and train to major cities of the State. Let’s see how many crores those projects run into…Finally, I guess Nitin Patel opened his eyes and realized that he was standing in the middle of a region with very limited connectivity to the outside world and talking about tourists flocking …. What a joke!
“ Gujarat govt gave me one hectare in Sagbara region in lieu of my fertile cultivable land which was submerged in the Sardar Sarovar. But the entire land is uncultivable and totally unproductive. What am I to do with such piece of land?” –Parchi Bondu, an affected tribal
And this is what PM Modi thinks about his pet project:
“India has once again exhibited its capability to the world […] .For many years after Independence we did not do anything which could attract foreign tourists. We repeatedly spoke of things our ancestors had created, like the Taj Mahal and Sun Temple of Konark.
So we put up a giant REPLICA to ” attract ” foreign tourists – what an idea sir ji!!
“The tourism industry generates maximum employment with minimum investment, and the poor, those who sell tea, pakoda, who drive taxi and auto rickshaw, reap the benefits “ – Does 2989cr count as a small investment?? Secondly, are there enough employment opportunities for all the tribal people who have been affected because of this project? And if the government argues that substitute [uncultivable] lands have been provided for the affected locals and others have a great future to look forward to selling chai and pakodas to the tourists with the promise of foreign tourism booming , let me put down a few things in the right perspective –
This is blatant tribal exploitation in the name of national pride, tribute to the Iron Man etc. Is it not an irony that several fertile agricultural lands have been seized to erect a mammoth statue of a man who himself hails from a family of farmers and is known to keep the interests of the farmers close to heart? To call it a tribute to Sardar Patel is a mockery when tribal farmers have been systematically persecuted by the Govt for this project – it is a Folly.
Doesn’t it sound absurd that our government would expect foreign tourists to flock to a dam in the middle of a tribal region essentially to look at a giant REPLICA of a statue which they could easily see at the International Airport of the nearest city which itself is not a popular tourist destination.
Here’s an excerpt from the letter of the tribal chiefs to Our Hon PM:
“These forests, rivers, waterfalls, land and agriculture supported us for generations. We survived on them. But, everything is being destroyed now and celebrations are also planned. Don’t you think it’s akin to celebrating someone’s death? We feel so … We all villagers want to tell you with extreme grief that we will not welcome you on October 31. Even if you come here like an unwanted guest, you are not welcome here… If Sardar Patel could see the mass destruction of natural resources and injustice done to us, he would cry. When we are raising our issues, we are persecuted by police. Why you are not ready to listen to our plight? ”
While Bhakts maybe argue against everything I said earlier, surely you would be not be able to dismiss this pitiful cry for help so easily as you would do every rational viewpoint/argument that tries to give you the real picture ?
The central government has led by a behemoth example and our state Governments are vying to follow the Centre’s lead. Today, multiple monstrosities are springing up across the country vying against one another in making the world turn around and look at them and the absurdity of their monstrosity in a country that seeks foreign aids. Anybody except our honorable PM and our state CMs can see the Folly for what it is –
“To take 1.1 billion pounds in aid from us and then at the same time spend 330 million pounds on a statue is a total nonsense and it is the sort of thing that drives people mad.”
Peter Bone , Conservative MP, UK
As Shiv Sena keeps crying hoarse that the proposed Chhatarapati Shivaji’s statue (~ 2500cr ) should be taller than Sardar Patel and Karnataka has decided to join the game with a plan for a river Goddess statue for Goddess Kaveri ( at an estimated cost of 1200cr ) , one would think that India is capable of only one thing – to keep erecting gigantic statues in the middle of the seas and forests that are visible from space ( which not many Indians themselves would bother visiting ) to “attract foreign visitors ” . The statues of our historical icons and cultural figures built at exorbitant amounts are no tributes to them and no source of pride to us .They are only a grim reminder of the dangerous politics that has become the order of the day – celebrating icons from different communities or popular culture to woo the target voters of specific communities . With the Statue of Unity it is not only the vote bank politics that brought the statue to Gujarat . It is an ambitious undertaking of a man who is seeking to establish his home state in the map of India and it has become a symbol of the man himself – a towering folly .
For those of you who are surprised by this rant , I will be back to book blogging with my next post . There are few things which can never be left unsaid …