The viewing gallery of the Statue of Unity that came under severe criticism from tourists after rainwater entering the area and forming puddles during the first heavy showers of the season, will soon be enclosed. As an emergency measure, the management has decided to cover the area with aluminium sheets, which would obstruct the view from the gallery.
Officials say remodeling the facade of the gallery is the only way to keep it dry during monsoon. JN Singh, Gujarat Chief Secretary and SVPRET member, said, “A glass enclosure was the original idea. But we went with an open gallery as per the suggestion of the designer. However, we are open to turning it into an enclosure again and we will consider glass or other options as well.”
With the onset of monsoon in June, the viewing gallery of the world’s tallest statue that stands at 182 metres made news for puddles and water dripping from the ceiling. Tourists who visited the gallery circulated videos, expressing their disappointment. Officials initially stated that rainwater would enter the gallery that left open for tourists to enjoy the view of the Narmada dam and the Vindhya mountain range. However, excessive criticism from tourists forced the management to take remedial measures.
Tasks to be undertaken on priority
As the first anniversary of the Statue of Unity comes up in October, the site is set to host several conferences, including one of the Union Cabinet and the Ministry of External Affairs as well as a conference of probationary officers of the civil services to be addressed by PM Modi. Officials have therefore been prompt in fixing shortcomings brought to their notice, and promoting the site on social media. In October, the PM is set to launch 30 projects linked to the statue. Therefore, addressing teething problems, including a leaking gallery, has become a priority for the government.
According to officials, the SVPRET, which manages the Statue of Unity, has invited design suggestions to close the gallery while keeping the aesthetics in mind.
“Initially, there was a proposal to make the gallery an air-conditioned glass enclosure. But the design team decided to leave it open for tourists to enjoy the natural weather from that height. So, only the part of the gallery behind the statue was enclosed with glass while the gallery at the chest was left open. What was not anticipated was the trouble tourists would face during rains. We received several complaints from tourists who got drenched as rainwater entered the gallery during the downpour. So a rethink was necessary,” an official in the know said.
The gallery, located at 153 metres, gives tourists a view of the breadth of the Narmada Dam. Officials also said that while a glass enclosure could be one option, the team is also exploring other ways to protect it from rain. “A formal proposal to cover the gallery will be made after taking into account other factors as it should not affect the design. Most certainly, the aluminium sheets cannot be a permanent solution,” the official said.