Now that the foundation of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's statue - to be the world's tallest - has been laid, a small rocky island in the middle of the Narmada riverbed and facing Gujarat's Sardar Sarovar Dam is seeing a lot of activity.
The first phase of the project, for which bids have already been invited, is estimated to cost around Rs 2,063 crore. This phase will involve construction of the main statue, a bridge connecting the statue to the river bank and reconstruction of the 12-km road along the bank. The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 2,500 crore.
"The first of two phases is expected to be completed in 42 months after allotment of work to a suitable party. At present, global tenders are being invited till November 30. After evaluation of these, the work will be allotted," said R S Patel, executive engineer in the Gujarat government's tourism development section.
According to government officials, the Indian arm of Turner Project Management, which worked on the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa of Dubai, is consultant for the project and construction management. Also, part of the consortium are US-based Michael Graves & Associates Inc and the India arm of Germany's Meinhardt Group.
Since the statue is going to be an unprecedented 182 metres tall, minus the pedestal on which it will be placed (New York's Statue of Liberty is 93 metres tall, including the pedestal), additional studies had to be carried out. "We have completed geological and seismological studies for the project, besides a study of the mathematical model," said Patel, adding the government had been approached for the environment impact assessment.
Experts also feel there will not be any problem for the structure. "I believe those who have assigned the work of designing the statue are experts in their fields and there should not be problems with regard to wind, seismology or other factors - they would have covered those before laying the foundation," said H M Shivanand Swamy, associate director, Centre for Environment Planning and Technology University. He added weather was unlikely to have any adverse effect on the statue once it came up.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, head of the state-funded Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), which is spearheading the statute-erection project, has called for farmers across India to donate iron pieces from their farm equipment. These pieces, to be collected from October 31, 2013, to January 26, 2014, will be melted for use in the statue. The statue will have steel framing, reinforced cement concrete and a bronze coating.
While the statue will be constructed bottom-up on site, Patel says some parts will be fabricated at different locations. From the base of the pedestal to the top of the head, the statue will measure 240 metres. Besides, a memorial park at the base, an artificial reservoir between the dam and Garudeshwar town and a visitor facilitation centre and reception desk will also be built.
SARDAR PATEL'S LEGACY
* The monument will be built on a public-private-partnership model, with most of the money raised through public contribution
* The statue will be double the height of Statue of Liberty in the US and four times that of 'Christ the Redeemer' in Rio de Janeiro
* An elevator would take visitors to the top of the statue, where there would be a viewing gallery
* It is expected to boost tourism and facilitate development in the surrounding tribal areas
* A viewing gallery
* A museum on the life of Sardar Patel
* An audio-visual gallery on the Sardar Sarovar Project
* A restaurant/cafeteria
* Recreational spots
* A laser, light & sound show on the efforts of unification of India
* Ferry services to avoid vehicular traffic and pollution
* Research centres for agriculture development, water management, tribal development and good governance nearby