Thousands of Chinese workers are expected to arrive at Sadhu Bet in Narmada district end of this year to begin work on the Statue of Unity, a memorial to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel — a project launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat chief minister.
Even as Congress criticised the project as defeating the “Make in India” initiative launched by Modi, after reports that the statue’s bronze parts will be made in a foundry in China, the Gujarat government said it has no control over where the contractor company gets the material from.
The Statue of Unity is slated to be the world’s tallest statue at 182 metres. For the project, Modi had launched a nationwide farm tool collection drive symbolic of “unifying the country”.
Larsen & Toubro (L&T), the company contracted by the Gujarat government for the Rs 3,000-crore project, has sub-leased the “bronze cladding” of the statue to TQ Art Foundry, part of the Jiangxi Toqine Company in Nanchang. Hundreds of Chinese workers are also expected to arrive in Narmada to “assist” L&T in the concrete construction of the statue core.
According to officials of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), a special purpose vehicle headed by CM Anandiben Patel, “High quality prototypes of precast facade that will be shipped in from China and assembled at the site.”
Member secretary of SVPRET K Srinivas said, “They (L&T) will be getting 25,000 pieces of bronze from China…The company is free to get the material from the best possible place.”
The steel frame work, also being procured from China, will be “contoured in the form of the statue” and “the cladding will be the facade”.
Emails to Jiangxi Toqine went unanswered, as did phone calls.