Skip to main content

It’s statue for tourism industry, seeks to promote disunity, displace tribals

By Rohit Prajapati, Trupti Shah
We activists of Gujarat oppose and condemn the construction of ‘Statue of Unity’; because it will be a statue that will divide and remove the tribal people form their land, forest and livelihood. It is a structure that will be 182 meters (392 feet) tall of Sardar Patel planned near the Sardar Sarovar Dam by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The statue will be placed directly facing the Sardar Sarovar dam at a distance of 3.2 km at the Sadhu Bet. Surprisingly and shockingly, the Government of Gujarat has allocated Rs 500 crore in the 2014-15 budget and the Government of India also has allocated Rs 200 crore in the 2014-2015 budget for the Statue of Unity project by presuming that project does not requires environment clearance from the concerned authorities.
More recently, the Government of Gujarat issued a work order of Rs. 2,979 crore to Larsen and Toubro for the construction of the Statue of Unity. The Government of Gujarat website states, “A monument, that will not just be a mute memorial like the rest, but a fully functional, purpose-serving tribute that will boost tourism and facilitate development in the surrounding tribal areas.”
Having not received any response from the authorities, we were forced to file right to information (RTI) applications to find out from the Government of Gujarat about environmental safeguards fulfilled for the Statue of Unity project. The reply which was expected from the Gujarat Government instead came from the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) to our RTI application dated June 3, 2014. Similar RTI application dated June 3, 2014 was sent to office of the Chief Minister of Gujarat and the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust. The public information officer (PIO) of the Chief Minister of Gujarat forwarded the application to SSNNL and till date there is no response from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust.
Surprisingly, the office of the Chief Minister of Gujarat had no idea about the legality of the Statue of Unity project. That is why they have not categorically responded to any of the issues raised in our letter dated November 7, 2013; instead they directed the Principal Secretary of Departments of Forest and Environment as well as the Additional Principal Secretary of Narmada, Water Resources, Water supply and Kalpsar Department of the Government of Gujarat to reply to our queries. Having laid the foundation stone for this ambitious project, it was expected from the Chief Minister of Gujarat’s office to be abreast with all the details the ‘Statue of Unity Project’.
The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust kept quiet on the issue for the best reasons known to them, and the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) says that “Environment clearance is not required.” The SSNNL had no idea about our RTI question number 6 (copies of minutes of all the meetings in which the decision for the ‘Statue of Unity Project’ was taken) and 7 (copies of all the decisions, resolutions, notifications and letters issued for the Statue of Unity project), and that is why they might have forwarded RTI to the PIO and the Secretary (Narmada), Narmada, Water Resources, Water Supply & Kalpsar Department, 9th Block, 2nd Floor, Sachivalaya, Gandhinagar.
This adds more and more confusion about the Statue of Unity project.

Our main objection to the ‘Statue of Unity Project:

The work on a project that proposes to build the world’s highest statue in the form of Statue of Unity near the Sardar Sarovar Dam in the river downstream from the dam, just 3.2 km from the Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary, in eco-sensitive zone and involving massive infrastructure has started work without legally mandatory environment clearance, environment and social impact assessment or any public consultation process.
This is clearly illegal, in violation of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 and EIA notification of September 2006 and a number of National Green Tribunal and court orders about such massive kind of construction on the riverbed. On October 31, 2013, the foundation stone was laid for the project amidst huge fanfare and media attention. Worked order to L&T is given for the construction. Even the work for the Garudeshwar weir, proposed about 12 km downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam, began without any social or environmental impact assessment, public consultation and environmental clearance from the Environmental Sub Group (ESG) of Narmada Control Authority (NCA).
The website http://www.statueofunity.in/ clearly states the purpose of tourism and involvement of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust to build the Statue of Unity, 3.2 km downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam inside the Narmada river on an islet called Sadhu Bet.
The website (http://www.statueofunity.in/execution.html#sthash.N9z6EHIu.dpuf) says: “A 13 km. long water body (pond) will create an excellent tourist spot with available infrastructure on both the banks… The Statue of Unity is planned to be erected in the river bed on downstream of the main dam in the Garudeshwar Weir pond. A permanent standing water pool in and around the Statue of Unity will be created by Garudeshwar Weir, which will enable boating activity around the statue.”
The Government of Gujarat website (http://www.statueofunity.in/) state that “a monument, that will not just be a mute memorial like the rest, but a fully functional, purpose-serving tribute that will boost tourism and facilitate development in the surrounding tribal areas.”

The key issues that beg immediate scrutiny are as follows:

The project clearly needs environment clearance under the EIA notification of September 2006, but has not applied for or obtained the clearance at any stage.
The Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary boundary is touching the Sardar Sarovar reservoir (as a part of the environmental protection measures of the Sardar Sarovar project, the earlier Dhumkal Sloth Bear Sanctuary was extended to meet the reservoir boundaries and is called Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary.) Since the statute is only 3.2 km from the Sardar Sarovar dam, it is certainly near the Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary.
The project involves construction on the river bed and inside the proposed reservoir, close to sanctuary in eco-sensitive zone, and hence will have serious impacts on the ecology and environment. Hence, and environmental impact assessment (EIA) and environmental clearance (EC) is crucial.
The project will affect the downstream river, its biodiversity, people and livelihoods and other related aspects.
A comprehensive assessment of the environmental and social impacts of the ‘Statue of Unity’ and its contribution to the cumulative impact of all the projects and activities in the area has not been done.
The project also needs public consultation, but none has happened so far.
During the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam due to hard rock digging, the seismic area already carries the burden of artificial activity in the bed rock and added load in what is deemed geologically fault line area. Public reports on geotechnical and geological studies on the proposed site have raised issues of structural stability as well as safety. This cannot be taken casually by authorities. The seismic hazard analysis claimed to have been done by the Gujarat Government’s in-house “Institute of Seismological Research” (http://www.statueofunity.in/execution.html#sthash.jEBrofSN.dpuf) or the Geological and Geotechnical investigation commissioned to another government institute WAPCOS cannot be considered credible unless peer reviewed and put in public domain.
We demand that:
The Government of Gujarat should submit application for environment clearance to the concerned authorities and till that is obtained, not to do any work related to the project.
The Government of Gujarat should immediately stop planned project called ‘Statue of Unity’ and stop all other activities related to the ‘Statue of Unity’.
The action of the foundation stone installation on 31 October 2013 for the project called ‘Statue of Unity’ by Mr. Narendra Modi the then Chief Minister of Gujarat is illegal, in violation of the EIA notification of September 2006 and the Environment Protection Act, 1986.


*Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara

Comments

TRENDING

Although sporting genius, Wasim Akram was mascot of cricket globalisation era

By Harsh Thakor*  Since Independence India and Pakistan produced a galaxy of cricketing stars that permeated cricketing artistry of legendary heights. Amongst this bunch.Wasim Akram manifested pure cricketing genius to the greatest height.I speculate how India’s fortunes would have changed had partition not taken place and Wasim playing for India. Wasim Akram explored realms untranscended in bowling wizardry, like a painter devising new art forms or a scientist experimenting. He simply re-defined the art of reverse swing, reversing the ball in and out. There were bowlers quicker, more accurate and with better records, but none equalled Wasim in an all-round package. He was more lethal with a new and old ball than any fast bowler ever. Wasim could produce balls that were surreal, with his reverse swing, defying laws of bio mechanics He was simply the epitome of versatility, possessing a repertoire of six different deliveries within an over itself, disguising deliveries in the manner of

Zakir Naik tumult, Catholic Church power abuse: will Anwar Ibrahim save Malaysia?

Anwar Ibrahim By Jay Ihsan*  Anwar Ibrahim, a hardcore reformist who took a punch to his eye in 1998 from then inspector-general of police, Rahim Noor, has finally been given the mandate by Malaysians to serve as the nation's 10th prime minister. Anwar knows too well the burden of staying true to both trust and faith the people have in him requires every once of commitment and dedication. The question is will he be apologetic for his transgressions enroute to "rebuilding" Malaysia? In his overzealousness to get the job done, Anwar, 75, needs to safeguard every bit of gumption to address prickling issues plaguing the safety of the nation especially those involving communal sensitivities. For one, dare Anwar get rid of terrorist hate preacher and fugitive Zakir Naik for inciting religious unrest in Malaysia? In November 2016, India’s counter-terrorism agency filed an official complaint against Naik, holding him responsible for promoting religious hatred and unlawful activi

Galileo-Catholic church affair: must history repeat at Malaysia’s St Francis Xavier church?

By Jay Ihsan*  Christianity is the enemy of liberation and civilization -August Bebel Christianity taught men that love is worth more than intelligence -Jacques Maritain Real Christianity can be summed up in two commands: Love God and love people. - Joyce Meyer Pious XI was too neutral to mention the gas chambers; decent people like my own family were turned into devils by crude Christianity - Lionel Blue Religious doctrines cannot escape the liberty of thoughts and expression. To each their own, so it is said. From all things nice to all things that make one cringe - religion is polarised and in this regard, Christianity has over time faced the wrath of bigotry espoused by those "bequeathed" to protect it. Take Pope Francis for example. He had a secret meeting with giant pharma Pfizer chief executive officer Albert Bourla last year while the world struggled to make sense of the word "lockdown" and suffer adverse effects of the Corona virus vaccines produced by Pfiz

Qatar World Cup has a strong Bangladesh connection: stadium construction, t-shirts

By Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan*  The FIFA World Cup fever has unquestionably cut through the minds of mass people all over the world. Stadiums in Qatar are buzzing with football fans and athletes representing their countries at the “Greatest Show on Earth". The magic of the FIFA World Cup is so enormous that even being unable to participate does not matter much to the fans who support different nations. This is one of the highest viewed events in the world, with the 2018 event viewed by about 3.6 billion people worldwide. But this crowd is not aware of the contribution of migrant workers who helped build the very stadiums where the matches are playing in. Qatar won the bid in 2010 to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, which got the oxymoron of celebration and controversy. This also created the potential for Qatar to Showcase its monumental economic achievements and unique culture on the global stage. The motto for Qatar’s bid team in 2010 was ‘Expect Amazing’ and migrant workers across th

A classic, 'Gandhi' ignores merciless cruelty unleashed on militant freedom fighters

By Harsh Thakor  The movie ‘Gandhi’ produced by Richard Attenborough, which was released 40 years ago on November 30th, 1982, was classic in it's own right. Ironical that it took an Englishman to embark upon the making of a film on this legendary figure. I can't visualize a better pictorial portrayal of Gandhi's life or an actor getting in the skin of the character an exuding the mannerisms as actor Ben Kingsley. Episodes are crafted and grafted surgically, illustrating how Gandhi wove fragmented bits into a cohesive force, to confront he British empire. Most boldly the movie unfolds how British colonialism subjugated the Indian people to barbaric cruelty. With great mastery the cinematography captures the vast Indian landscapes and essence of livelihood of Indians under colonial rule. The movie most illustratively shows the crystallisation of anti-colonial fervour from the embryonic stage and how it fermented into an integrated movement. In a most subtle manner it illustr

Implementing misleading govt order to pollute Hyderabad's 100 year old reservoirs

Senior activists* represent to the Telangana Governor on GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD), Government of Telangana: ‘...restrictions imposed under para 3 of said GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996 are removed...’: *** Ref: GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996: ‘To prohibit polluting industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments that generate pollution in the catchment of the lakes upto 10kms from full tank level as per list in Annexure-I...’ We come to your office with grievance that GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by Government of Telangana not only contains false information issued ‘By Order and in the name of the Governor of Telangana’ , without any scientific or expert reports, but also that implementation of the said GO is detrimental and can be catastrophic to the Hyderabad city as two 100 year old reservoirs Osman Sagar and Himayath Sagar were constructed as dams on river Moosa and river Esa, with the first and

Film on evidence of viability of in situ communitarian urban water management

By Rahul Banerjee  Over the past few years it has become increasingly clear that centralised urban water management in India is in deep crisis. Water supply is both inadequate and extremely costly, water harvesting and recharging and used water treatment and reuse are mostly absent and storm water management is a disaster. Under the circumstances, the only viable solution is communitarian in situ water management and this is what has been proposed in the latest guidelines of both the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation and the Swacch Bharat Mission. Our NGO, Mahila Jagat Lihaaz Samiti , has not only implemented communitarian in situ water management but has also carried out research to provide evidence of the unviability of centralised water management and the suitability of the former. Here is a film based on a detailed research that I did on urban water management in Chhattisgarh for the National Institute of Urban Affairs, New Delhi, that succinctly critiques cen

Terrorism and right-wing politics in Bangladesh: Exploring the nexus

By Shafiqul Elahi*  Although terrorism as broadly understood as violent extremism or militancy has long historical roots, in Bangladesh, it surfaced in the 1970s through leftist militants. Later, it shifted to Islamist extremism in the 1980s and flourished throughout the 1990s, and reached its peak in the early 2000s. The menace of terrorism particularly in the form of Islamic militancy has widely been felt in Bangladesh's society and polity since 1999. Since then, several militant groups have gained ground and started to challenge the government over the issues of the political process and social systems in the country. The central goal of the operations of the militant groups is to establish an Islamic regime in the country. The Fifth Amendment of the Bangladesh Constitution under the Zia regime in the late 1970s and the eighth amendments of the Constitution under the Ershad regime in the early 1980s have placed Islam at the state level to recognize its importance in the country

Chemical project promoters of Tamil Nadu have a lot to learn from Gujarat

By NS Venkataraman*  When good investment opportunities in chemical industry exist which are known in a region and which are yet to be exploited, it can be said that the chemical industry in the region is at the cross roads. However, when there are good investment opportunities in chemical industry but which are ignored and focus shifted to some other sector, it can be said that the scenario amount to poor strategy. Tamil Nadu government has now fixed a target for achieving one trillion dollar economy in the state by 2030. This is a bold and forward looking initiative and certainly this target is achievable, even though the year 2030 is only seven years away. With the target of achieving one trillion dollar size economy, it is necessary to give due role and importance for the growth of the chemical industry, since several chemical products are feed inputs for several other industrial sector such as automobile, electronics, textile and so on. Growth of such chemical in

Floods: As ax falls on most vulnerable, Pak seeks debt cancellation, climate justice

By Tanupriya Singh  Even as the floodwaters have receded, the people of Pakistan are still trying to grapple with the death and devastation the floods have left in their wake. The floods that swept across the country between June and September have killed more than 1,700 people, injured more than 12,800, and displaced millions as of November 18. The scale of the destruction in Pakistan was still making itself apparent as the world headed to the United Nations climate conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.  Pakistan was one of two countries invited to co-chair the summit. It also served as chair of the Group of 77 (G77) and China for 2022, playing a critical role in ensuring that the establishment of a loss and damage fund was finally on the summit’s agenda, after decades of resistance by the Global North. “The dystopia has already come to our doorstep,” Pakistan’s Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman told Reuters. By the first week of September, pleas for h