Be­hind the mak­ing of Statue of Unity

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - NATION - Hi­ral Dave hi­ral.dave@htlive.com

GAND­HI­NA­GAR/NARMADA: In the sum­mer of 2010, the Gu­jarat cabi­net re­ceived a short but clear brief about an am­bi­tious project from then chief min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, who was soon to be­gin his 10th year in of­fice.

The scale and na­ture of the project was so daunt­ing that it raised scep­ti­cism even within a sec­tion of the state’s rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Just like they were about Modi’s plans to move to the na­tional cen­tre stage, the scep­tics were doubt­ful about his govern­ment’s abil­ity to ex­e­cute the plan.

On Oc­to­ber 6 the same year, the Modi for the first time made his plan pub­lic: to build a gi­ant Statue of Unity to com­mem­o­rate In­dia's first home min­is­ter Val­lab­hb­hai Pa­tel, known as Sar­dar, who played a de­ci­sive role in uni­fy­ing the coun­try fol­low­ing in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tish rule. “A trib­ute to the Iron Man of In­dia. At 182 me­tres, 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,” Modi said.

Eight years later, a con­sor­tium of world class con­struc­tion com­pa­nies that ex­e­cuted the project – Michael Graves Ar­chi­tec­ture and De­signs, Turner Con­struc­tion and Larsen &Toubro -- is over­see­ing the count­down to the Oc­to­ber 31 in­au­gu­ra­tion of the statue on Sadhu Bet, a hillock be­tween the Vid­hyan­chal and Sa­putara ranges lo­cated 3.5 km down­stream of t he iconic, 138-me­tre high Sar­dar Sarovar Dam.

Four thou­sand work­ers toiled for years to raise the statue, which will be at the cen­tre of a pond that will be filled with over­flow­ing wa­ter from the dam.

Oth­ers may have had their doubts about the fea­si­bil­ity of the project, but Modi knew just what he wanted even be­fore its ground­break­ing.

“From the very point of propos­ing the project, he was very clear about all the as­pects– where, how and also why. It should be the tallest statue. It should be dou­ble the height of the cur­rent tallest struc­ture (Statue of Lib­erty), kind of that matches the stature of Sar­dar. And, where but in the

THE MAK­ING

Teams com­pris­ing his­to­ri­ans, artists and aca­demi­cians, af­ter study­ing var­i­ous Sar­dar Pa­tel stat­ues across In­dia, ze­roed in on a de­sign pro­posed by Noid­abased sculp­tor Ram Su­tar.

“The Statue of Unity is a big­ger replica of the Sar­dar Pa­tel statue at Ahmed­abad in­ter­na­tional air­port.

The ex­pres­sion, pos­ture and pose jus­tify the dig­nity, con­fi­dence, iron will as well as kind­ness that his per­sona ex­udes. The head is up, a shawl flung from shoul­ders and hands are on the side as if he is set to walk,” Anil Su­tar, who has worked along with his fa­ther Ram on the de­sign, said.

They made three mod­els of 3 ft, 18 ft and 30 ft in height. When the 30ft model was given the go-ahead, a 3D soft ver­sion was made, based on which the Chi­nese foundry Ji­agxi Tongquing Metal Hand­i­crafts Co. Ltd has done the bronze cladding that makes for the ex­te­rior, and forged an in­ter­nal con­crete and iron struc­ture.

“Be­tween 2013 and 2018, we vis­ited the Chi­nese foundry nearly 10 times to over­see in­tri­cate de­tails like san­dal shape, face wrin­kles, shawl folds and nails. A huge ther­mo­cole replica of the shoul­ders and head was done to fi­nal­ize the jaw bone, eye­lids, retina size, eyes-ears, among other things,” Su­tar said.

“Along with a mi­cro­scopic view, we took the pic­ture of the ther­mo­cole replica from a 10th storey build­ing be­fore seal­ing the de­tails,” he added.

Over 5,000 bronze pan­els, made in China, were shipped for build­ing the statue. “It is just 8%’’ (of the cost), ar­gued Singh in re­sponse to op­po­si­tion party jibes that the statue had been Made in China.

From 157 me­tres, around the chest level, a vis­i­tor’s gallery with the ca­pac­ity to ac­com­mo­date a batch of 200 peo­ple of­fers a view of the Sat­pura and Vid­hyan­chal moun­tain ranges where the bor­ders of Gu­jarat con­verges with Mad­hya Pradesh and Ma­ha­rash­tra. It also of­fers a bird’s-eye view of Gu­jarat’s life­line -- the Sar­dar Sarovar Dam.the base of the statue , with an ex­hibit floor, will house a memo­rial gar­den and mu­seum on a mul­ti­me­dia plat­form. From here, two el­e­va­tors to carry 40 peo­ple each at a sin­gle time will take vis­i­tors to the view­ing gallery.

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