₹ 2,989,00,00,000 – I’ll just let that number sink into your mind. This is the amount of money spent for the construction and maintenance of ‘Statue of Unity,’ built to honour the memory of the ‘Ironman of India’ late Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a freedom fighter turned politician who played a key role in bringing hundreds of diverse princely states of British Raj into the Republic of India.
The question most of us would probably have is whether this statue is worth the money or not. Let us approach this in a scientific manner, listing out the positives and the negatives from an unbiased and fair perspective, as much as possible.
This enormous project on the bank of Narmada river would supposedly create 15,000 direct jobs, decreasing the numbers of unemployed population thus making way to the progress of the State of Gujarat and of India as a whole, which is gratifying to think about in every way. Apart from this, the project promises to provide livelihood to more people indirectly.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for his efforts to develop tourism in Gujarat while he was the Chief Minister of the state, roping in Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan as the board’s ambassador. This statue’s construction too had begun back in Oct 2013, while Modi was in that position, and was announced as the Prime Minister candidate for the then upcoming 2014 Lok Sabha Elections representing Bharathiya Janata Party(BJP). The ‘Statue of Unity’ is poised to further develop the growth of tourism in the state, which could be seen as a welcoming sign.
Keeping in view the above positives, let us glance at the other side of the coin. This project was mired with controversies right form its announcement as it is reported that it got an environmental clearance without following the norms and that several thousand tribal families had to be evacuated from their homelands for the smooth construction of the mega structure. Many farmers in the surrounding areas have bemoaned that they have been cheated by the government, as they have been asked to surrender their lands for a reservoir but were not informed about this statue.
Controversies aside, the rationale behind building this giant statue and in the process spending thousands of crores of public money, especially when the financial status of the country is not at its best is questioned by several political and economic commentators.
I have no way other than to end with the same question that I’ve started with, as I myself am confused – Is it worth the money?
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