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Environment / Climate change

India's building the world's tallest statue

Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, couldn’t be accused of a lack of diversity in his pet projects. Since coming to power in May, he’s signed off on a £700m smart cities proposal; and he’s spearheaded a campaign to build millions of new public toilets. Now, in the northern state of Gujarat, he’s planning to build the world’s largest statue.

The monument, known as the Statue of Unity, will commemorate the work of Vallabhbhai Patel, a statesman who was instrumental in the country’s independence and unification movements in the 1940s. At 182m, it’ll be almost double the height of the Statue of Liberty, and 29m taller than the current title-holder, the Spring Temple Buddha in Henan, China.

The statue was first proposed in 2010, and Modi himself laid the foundation stone in October 2013 (he was Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time). Today, the central government announced that infrastructure firm Larsen & Toubro will design, construct and maintain the statue for a mere 30bn rupees ($480m). It’ll also build a new bridge and road from the mainland to the statue’s location on Sadhu island. 

The proposals weren’t immediately popular with residents, mainly because of the statue’s price tag. So the government has spent the past few years publicising grand renderings of the monument through a promotional website and images like this one:

At the end of 2013, Modi appealed to farmers “from every village in India” to donate pieces of iron farming tools to the statue’s metal-collection effort. But it later emerged that these would be used in other parts of the project while the statue itself would be built from “high quality steel”.

According to India’s Daily News and Analysis newspaper, an official said this was due to the “uncertain quality” of the farmers’ tools, and “denied that the iron collection drive was aimed at mobilising political support”. Presumably the slogan “TALLEST STATUE OF THE WORLD” wasn’t, either. 


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