Even as state ministers and bureaucrats have fanned out across the country to encourage farmers to donate iron tools for the Statue of Unity, it emerges that the collected iron will not be used in construction of the actual statue and will instead be used for some other part of the project.
“High quality steel will be used for building the statue, and not the iron tools collected from farmers. The 182-metre-tall statue will be a monument befitting the stature of Sardar Patel, and we want it to last for centuries. Iron tools collected from farmers will be of uncertain quality, and will not be used for building the statue,” said a senior government official.
The iron collected from farmers will be used for foundation related work or some other works in the project, which apart from the statue also includes a bridge connecting the statue to the land, a spectator gallery, museum, among others. It will come up at Sadhu Bet, around 3.3 km from Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia in Narmada district. The first phase of the project is estimated to cost over Rs2,000 crore.
“The purpose of the ongoing iron collection drive of the government is to build an emotional connect of farmers with Sardar Patel’s statue. The iron collected will be used in the non-statue parts of the project,” the official said when asked about the purpose of collecting iron from farmers if it was not to be used for building the statue.
The official denied that the iron collection drive was aimed at mobilising political support for chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in rural areas ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), which is executing the Statue of Unity project, has estimated that around 5,000 tonne of iron would be required for the whole project, including 2,000 tonne for the statue alone. Of this, around 600 tonne is expected to be collected in the form of small donations from farmers.
“We aim to collect 1 kilo iron from each of the six lakh villages in the country,” a senior official said.
A number of delegations, headed by ministers and comprising politicians and bureaucrats, are currently visiting different states to create awareness about the project and to encourage people to donate iron tools. On December 15 — the death anniversary of Sardar Patel — the government plans to organise ‘Run for Unity’ in every city in the country.
Info at a glance
182 metre is the height of Statue of Unity, double that of Statue of Liberty
Rs2,000 crore is the estimated cost of the project’s first phase
5,000 tonne iron will be used for the whole project
600 tonne iron is expected to be collected in the form of donation from farmers
42 months is the time in which the first phase of the project will be completed