The Gujarat government is gearing up to inaugurate the Statue of Unity, the 182-metre-tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel — a dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — on October 31, the 143rd birth anniversary of the country’s first Home Minister. On Tuesday, Gujarat Chief Secretary J N Singh visited Kevadia Colony in Narmada district to take stock of the project, which is being executed by the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL).
“Having been involved in the project’s tendering process in its early stages, it is very satisfying to see the project taking shape. We are aiming for an October 31 inauguration this year, which will also mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel,” said Singh, who was the MD of SSNNL when the Statue of Unity was commissioned to it.
He told The Indian Express that he was “exhilarated” to visit the statue project.
Singh also asserted that a ropeway, which was promised by Prime Minister Modi, would also come up in the area as an added tourist attraction.
“There is an existing ropeway that goes across the breadth of the Narmada dam, from one end to the other. So far, it has been used during the construction for transporting materials to the site. We plan to strengthen this ropeway by tendering the contract and bringing in operators, who are already providing services in other parts of the state (like Pavagadh). The ropeway will give the tourists a scenic view of the Narmada dam on one side and the impressive Statue of Unity on the other. I have travelled by that ropeway myself and I know it will be a thrill for visitors. The Prime Minister had announced the ropeway and the Chief Minister (Vijay Rupani) is keen on beginning the tendering project, although it may take some time to get the project completed,” Singh told The Indian Express.
The state government, Singh added, is also in the process of signing an MoU with the Union Ministry of Culture to secure original letters written by Sardar Patel during his life that will be placed in the museum being built close to the site of the Statue of Unity.
At present, the engineering teams working on the structure have erected 157 metres of the statue (192 metres from mean sea level), which will form the chest of the statue and will contain the viewing gallery for visitors.
P C Vyas, Chief Engineer (SSNNL), said that the work on the construction of the two concrete cores of the statue was complete. “The concrete cores A and B, which will house the elevators to take visitors to the viewing gallery, have been completed. They end at 157 metres, which is the chest of the statue. The head of the statue, which will come up above this level will be made of the steel frame that will be affixed throughout the concrete structure, too, to form the shape of the body of Sardar Patel.”
The statue is a mixture of concrete and steel framework for the core that will then be covered by the exterior cladding of bronze. The TQ Art Foundry has designed about 5,000 bronze panels under the supervision of artist Ram Sutar that have been assembled at a workshop on the site before being clad to complete the facade in stages. Vyas said, “The bronze cladding has also begun simultaneously from the feet of the statue. Currently, about three feet of bronze cladding is complete.”
The contract for the steel framework has been handed over to Malaysia-based Eversendai, which has constructed Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa — Dubai’s famous highrises.
Close to 2,400 labourers are working at the construction site day and night. The statue has been erected using the “jump form” construction assembly, a “self-climbing one”, with built-in hydraulic lifting jacks that move the structure upwards during its construction.
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