Statue of Unity: Govt on overdrive

The Gujarat government has only one thing on its mind now — the Statue of Unity (SoU).

Written by Ahiral Dave | Gandhinagar | Published:December 20, 2013 4:13 am

The Gujarat government has only one thing on its mind now — the Statue of Unity (SoU). As most states are readying their annual budgets,in Gujarat,all bureaucrats – from chief secretary to heads of at least six other departments – are busy co-ordinating events for this mega project which is seen as a surrogate campaign for Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s prime ministership ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The officers maintained that daily work has been affected,with many undecided policies,bills and other decisions piling up.

The state government has already planned to go for vote-on-account,instead of presenting a full-fledged budget,apparently because of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The reason: Modi and his Cabinet will be mainly busy in the campaigning. Besides,with the code of conduct likely to be placed soon,the Modi government may hold a short Assembly session before end of January itself.

Usually,the yearend,for any government department,is the busiest time – they prepare and send notes to the finance department for budget preparations. But,this time,they have other important assignment in hand. The seniormost bureaucrats,including Chief Secretary Varesh Sinha and six Additional Chief Secretaries,who head important departments – finance,energy,industries,forest,road and building – form the core team of member secretaries of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust,a special-purpose vehicle floated to carry out the Statue of Unity project.

These officials,headed by a Cabinet minister and a host of other IAS and IPS officers in a batch of 25,have already been to nine states to accelerate the mobilsation,which includes Run for Unity (held on December 15),essay competition in nearly 2 lakh schools in India’s urban pockets and the collection of 5,000 metric tonne of iron pieces from 7 lakh villages across the country.

For Run for Unity,it was the Department of Youth and Culture that worked hard,with the support of an NGO named Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG),to ensure that 40 lakh people at 1,100 locations in India ran on December 15. For Statue of Unity,the office of development commissioner is preparing to dispatch 2 lakh letters,written by Modi in 11 regional languages,to the addresses of 2 lakh sarpanchs. The Science and Technology Department is busy preparing the digital material,including an electronic collage.

The Agriculture and Cooperative Department is in constant touch with NGOs and social organisations that will spread out across India for mobilisation. The General Administration Department is busy preparing schedules for teams,from top bureaucrats to clerical staff,that will be travelling in batches across the country to promote the Statue of Unity.

The Revenue Department will ensure that no hurdle comes in the acquisition of land,the site of the statue. The Education Department,like development office,will dispatch Modi’s letter to 2 lakh schools in urban pockets and see that schools organise essay competitions on the life and time of Sardar Patel. “It’s a simple process of overseeing the dispatch of letters and conducting essay competition. But the scale at which it has been planned demands a lot of time and energy,” said a senior officer.

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