Two months after the inauguration of the 182-metre-tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat’s Narmada district, a series of national and state-level government events have been lined up to be held on the premises the Statue of Unity in Kevadia Colony.
In February, the premises will host a conference of state election commissioners to review the preparedness for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
While the dates of the meeting have not been finalised, official sources said that the three-day meet will be held in second week of February, and accordingly, the Collector of Narmada district has been notified.
This comes in the heels of annual DGP conference that was held at the world’s tallest statue complex last week and was presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Next month, the Gujarat government will also host the three-day International Kite Festival at the Statue of Unity site that will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on January 8. Interestingly, the festival in which kite flyers from across the world take part used to be held in Saputara hills till a year ago.
“There is no either, or. Both the places are important in their own ways. Since the Statue of Unity is something truly iconic and new, it is a global landmark that we need to popularise,” S J Haider, Gujarat Principal Secretary (Tourism), said.
Amid this, the state government is also exploring the possibility of starting seaplane services from Sabarmati in Ahmedabad to the statue complex. “There are four places in our mind for the seaplane services — Sabarmati river (Ahmedabad), Shetrunji river (Bhavnagar), Dharoi dam (Mehsana), and areas around the Statue of Unity. At the moment, technical studies to start the services are underway. Once technical feasibilities are given a green light, we will go ahead with the project,” Gujarat Tourism Managing Director Jenu Devan told The Indian Express.
According to officials, the Statue of Unity witnesses a daily footfall average of 8,000 visitors. The highest one day record was on November 10, the weekend after Diwali ,when 28,409 tourists visited the site. Till December 23, 4,04,082 people have visited the site, generating an income of Rs 10.11 crore through ticket sales.
According to Haider, the statue has an “immense tourism potential” that required to be unlocked in a way that it should contribute to the inclusive growth and sustainable development of the region. “We are thinking of promoting wellness tourism and yoga, eateries with tribal delicacies. We can have eco-tourism circuits like Zarwani waterfall. The idea is to offer visitors a variety of things on their platter. The centre of attraction will be the Statue of Unity, but on the sidelines there will be additional activities. Like we are thinking of promoting bicycle lanes as a healthy and refreshing activity. We are also planning a theme park near the complex,” said Haider.
“By organising national and international events, tourism will contribute to the local economy and add to the prosperity of the place,” he added.