A dinosaur park, named after the 22-foot Rajasaurus dinosaurs believed to have roamed the Narmada valley about 65 million years ago, is among the 30-odd projects planned at Kevadia Colony — near the Statue of Unity (SoU) — that are expected to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31. The occasion marks the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
“There are over 30 projects going on at Kevadia Colony. Around 60 contractors have been engaged to complete them well before October 31. We are expecting the Prime Minister to inaugurate these projects,” said MB Joshi, Chief General Manager (Technical and Coordination), of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL).
Last year on October 31, PM Modi inaugurated the Statue of Unity. “These projects are coming up in a 20-kilometre area around the Statue of Unity,” the official said, adding that three entities, including Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) and the forest department, were in charge of the projects at Kevadia Colony.
The biggest of the 30-odd projects at the site is the “jungle safari” for which a society has been formed to manage and operate it over 130 acres of forest that will house giraffes and African cheetahs. “While some of the exotic species are being brought to Gujarat as per animal exchange programme with different countries, a few others are being bought from other countries,” said Joshi. “The exotic animals will be first kept at the GEER (Gujarat Ecological Education and Research) foundation’s Indroda Park in Gandhinagar and Sakkarbaug zoo in Junagadh for acclimatisation,” he said.
The Dinosaur Park named after Rajasaurus Narmadensis whose fossils found from the Narmada valley date to the Late Cretaceous period, will have 70-foot sculptures of the species erected on three hilltops that dot the landscape where trekking facilities are being planned.
Earlier this year, about 170 kilometres away from Kevadia, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani inaugurated a Dinosaur Museum and fossil park at Raiyoli village in Balasinor of Mahisagar district, the third largest hatchery of Rajasaurus Narmadensis in the world. Apart from this, special jetties are being built under the guidance of Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) to facilitate boating in a special navigational channel that will connect Shreshtra Bharat Bhavan with the SoU. This will be part of the Garudeshwar weir project that entails creation of a reservoir surrouding the SoU downstream from the dam.
“The work on these projects began in March 2019 and we are looking to complete most of them in time for the inauguration by the Prime Minister,” the official added. Other projects coming up on the site include Children’s Nutrition Park, Valley of Flowers, Mirror Maze, Vishwa Van, Cactus Garden, Ekta Nursery, Arogya Van, Aquarium, Butterfly Garden, Shreshta Bharat Bhavan, Narmada Nihar and Ekta Dwar.
“While building these projects, we are strictly going by the vision of the Prime Minister. When he came to inaugurate the SoU, he gave some suggestions, including a few to boost the local economy. We have built these projects accordingly,” said Joshi. Projects that have been conceived to involve the local tribal population in and around SoU include the Ekta Mall and Ekta Nursery where tribal will be able to conduct live display of their skills and sell their produce to the tourists.
However, some of these projects are refurbishments of existing structures, including the Ekta Auditorium project that was a community hall that was built for SSNNL employees living in Kevadia Colony. Budget tourist accommodation project involves overhaul of 126 SSNNL quarters that were in a dilapidated condition.
An official of the Gujarat forest department earlier told this paper that over 1,500 animals of various species will be housed in the safari area, including giraffes, kangaroos, pandas, koalas and ostriches. “Proposals to channelise the import of the animals are being worked on. The animals will be housed in open spaces that mimic their natural habitats, and visitors will move around in electric cars,” the official said.