In a lavish ceremony, India unveiled the 182-metre statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, named the Statue of Unity to venerate his efforts to bring together the princely states after independence. After revealing the sculpture in a pompous manner with fireworks, jet planes and shower of rose petals from helicopters, Narendra Modi stated that this was “an answer to all those who question the existence of India”. “The height of the statue is to remind the youth that the future of the country will be as huge as this,” and be symbolic of “our engineering and technical prowess”, he added.
After 4 years of construction, the bronze-clad figure is finally complete costing the nation whopping Rs 29.8bn (£314m) and houses a memorial garden and museum at its base. The lifts can take up to 15,000 tourists to a viewing gallery about 152m high each day. The entrée fee has been fixed to Rs 350. In spite of local protests, the Gujarat government stated that 185 families were moved and compensated and given and 1,200 acres (475 hectares) of new land to accommodate the structure.
But interestingly enough, posters of Modi and Vijay Rupani, Gujarat CM, were torn down. Local legislator and community group leader Chotu Vasava commented that “Tribal groups have been exploited by different governments, the ruling BJP [Bharatiya Janata party] is repeating it again… I am not against Sardar, but what is the use of the statue if the people on the land have to suffer and are moved from their homes?”