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

Only 15% businesses provide employees real-time sustainability dashboards: Study

Kyndryl in collaboration with Microsoft has released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm, finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data. A Kyndryl note: *** Kyndryl (NYSE: KD), the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider, in collaboration with Microsoft , today released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm , finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data.

देशव्यापी ग्रामीण भारत बंध में उतरे मध्य प्रदेश के आदिवासी, किया केंद्र सरकार का विरोध

हरसिंग जमरे, भिखला सोलंकी, रतन अलावे द्वारा* 15 और 16 फरवरी को निमाड के बड़वानी, खरगोन और बुरहानपुर में जागृत आदिवासी दलित संगठन के नेतृत्व में आदिवासी महिला-पुरुषों ग्रामीण भारत बंद में रैली एवं विरोध प्रदर्शन किया । प्रधान मंत्री द्वारा 2014 में फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने का वादा किया गया था, 2016 में किसानों की आय दुगना करने का वादा किया गया था । आज, फसलों का दाम नहीं बढ़ रहा है, लेकिन खेती में खर्च बढ़ता जा रहा है! खाद, बीज और दवाइयों का दाम, तीन-चार गुना बढ़ चुका है! किसानों को लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने के बजाए, खेती को कंपनियों के हवाले करने के लिए 3 काले कृषि कानून लाए गए । 3 काले कानून वापस लेते समय प्रधान मंत्री ने फिर वादा किया था कि फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव की कानूनी गारंटी के लिए कानून बनाएँगे, लेकिन वो भी झूठ निकला! आज जब देश के किसान दिल्ली में आपको अपना वादा याद दिलाने आए है, तब आप उनका रास्ता रोक रहें है, उनके साथ मारपीट कर उन पर आँसू गैस फेंक रहें हैं, उन पर छर्रों से फायरिंग कर रहें है! देश को खिलाने वाला किसान खुद भूखा रहे, क्या यही विकास है?

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.

Tamil Nadu brahmins are at cross roads, their future scenario remains uncertain

By NS Venkataraman*  For over 70 years now, brahmin community in Tamil Nadu have been abused, insulted and even physically attacked on some occasions by those who claimed that they were part of the so called dravidian movement. However, brahmin community silently and helplessly ducked under pressure and showed no signs of resistance or fight back.

Laxmanpur Bathe massacre: Perfect example of proto-fascist Brahmanical social order

By Harsh Thakor  The massacre at Laxmanpur-Bathe of Jehanabad in Bihar on the night of 1 December in 1997 was a landmark event with distinguishing features .The genocide rightly shook the conscience of the nation in the 50th year of Indian independence. The scale of the carnage was unparalleled in any caste massacre. It was a perfect manifestation of how in essence the so called neo-liberal state was in essence most autocratic. 

How Mahakavi Sri Sri defined political and cultural metamorphosis of Telugu society

By Harsh Thakor  Srirangam Srinivasarao, popularly known as Sri Sri, or called Mahakavi (The Great Poet), held a reputation like no other Telugu poet. Today, on June 15th, we commemorate his 40th death anniversary. Sri Sri transcended heights in revolutionary creativity or exploration, unparalleled, in Telegu poetry, giving it a new dimension. His poems projected the theme or plight of the oppressed people at a scale, rarely penetrated by poets, giving revolutionary poetry it’s soul.

1982-83 Bombay textile strike played major role in shaping working class movement

By Harsh Thakor  On January 18th, 1982 the working class movement commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Textile Workers Strike that lasted for 18 months, till July 1983. It was landmark event that played a major role in shaping the working class movement. With more than 2.5 lakh workers from 65 textile mills joining in this strike for almost two years, this strike became one of the most significant strikes in terms of scale and duration All democrats should applaud the mill workers’ united battle, and their unflinching resilience an death defying courage continues to serve as a model for contemporary working-class movements. Many middle class persons harboured opinions that the Textile workers were pampered or were a labour aristocracy, ignorant of how they were denied wages to provide for basic necessities. The Great Bombay Textile Strike is notably one of the most defining movements in the working class struggles in Post-independent India. Bombay’s textile industry flourished in

India may be fastest growing economy, but it is one of the most unequal countries

By Vikas Parasram Meshram  The economic disparity gap continues to widen with economic disparity.  A large portion of the population is dispossessed, while the poor continue to get poorer. They struggle to earn a minimum wage and access quality education and health care, suffering disinvestment from persistently low incomes. These widening gaps and growing inequalities have the greatest impact on women and children.  The Oxfam International report is known to have expressed concern that, on the one hand, the wealth of some people in the world is increasing at a rocket speed.  And the number of rich people is constantly increasing. As a result, the income of the common man is increasing very little, while the wealth of the rich class has increased manifold.  Not only in India but in many other countries of the world, the gap of economic inequality is continuously widening. Oxfam International in its annual report on economic inequality at the World Economic Forum meeting last month, sai

Adapting to edge: Urban and coastal climate resilience - fostering collaborative alliances

By Enid Dsouza  Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) India hosted a workshop on ‘Adapting to the Edge: Urban and Coastal Climate Resilience’ as part of the Climate Action Workshop Series in New Delhi. The workshop brought together experts, practitioners, government bodies, CSR leaders to initiate dialogues on fostering nature-based solutions for a climate-resilient future.

Israel's merciless bombing of Rafah faced huge protests across the globe

By Harsh Thakor*  With the numbers of the murdered in Gaza surpassing 28,000 people, Israel mercilessly conducted bombing to prepare for a genocidal attack on the displaced people in Rafah. Peoples of the world keep rose up like a spark turning into a prairie fire.