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India presents the world's highest statue at cost to the environment

On October 30, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the world's largest statue of "Statue of Unity" in Gujarat. At…

On October 30, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the world’s largest statue of “Statue of Unity” in Gujarat. At 182 meters or 598 feet (240 meters or 787 feet including the base), it is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty and shows India’s first Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

The statue overlooks Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River. Patel is often regarded as inspiration for the pond, which came to international attention when the World Bank drew its support from the 1

993 project after a decade of environmental and humanitarian protests. It was not until 2013 that the World Bank financed another large dam project.

Like the pond, the statue has been condemned for the lack of environmental monitoring and its displacement of local Adivasi or Indigenous peoples. The land on which the statue was built is an Adivasan holy place that was forced to be taken from them.

Read more: India’s development debate must go beyond Modi

“Statue of Unity” is part of a wider print of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to promote Patel as a symbol of Indian nationalism and free market development. The Statue’s website commends him to bring the “prince states” to the union in India and to be an early advocate for Indian free-label companies.

BJP’s promotion of Patel also serves to overshadow inheritance from his boss, India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru’s descendant leads India’s most influential opposition party, the Indian National Congress.

The statue was to be built with both private and public money, but it attracted some private investment. In the end, the Gujarat government paid too much of the statue’s price tag of $ 416.67 million.

The Gujarat government claims that the investment in the statue will promote tourism and that tourism is “sustainable development”. The United Nations says that sustainable tourism increases environmental performance and promotes local cultures. However, given the statue’s lack of environmental controls and its displacement of local populations, it is difficult to see how the project meets these goals.

The structure itself is not exactly a model for sustainable design. Some 5000 tonnes of iron, 75,000 cubic meters of concrete, 5,700 tons of steel and 22,500 tonnes of bronze sheets were used in the construction.

The critics of the statue note that this emblem of Indian nationalism was designed by a Chinese architect and bronze foil put into place by Chinese labor.

Statue’s position next to the controversial Sardar Sarovar dam also tells. While Gujarat’s Prime Minister from 2001 to 2014 conducted Modi for the Dam Construction, despite the World Bank’s condemnation. He praised the dam in 2017 as a monument to India’s progress.

Both the completion of the pond and the statue celebrating it indicates that the BJP government supports economic development over human rights and environmental protection.

The Statement inauguration comes only one month after the country closed the first nature reserve in India since 1972. The Modi government has also suffered a repeated criticism of a series of industrial policy measures that have eliminated protection for protection, forests, coasts and air pollution and weakened minorities

India has recently rated 177 of 180 countries worldwide for its environmental protection measures.

Despite this record, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) recently awarded Modi its highest environmental award. It made him a world champion for his work on solar energy and plastic reduction.

The decision led to a setback in India, where many commentators are affected by BJP’s environmental record.

Read more: Bridges and roads in northeastern India can drive small tribes away from development

Visitors to the statue access it via a 5 kilometer long boat trip. On the statue they can buy souvenirs and fast food before taking a high-speed elevator to the observation deck.

The observation deck will be in Patel’s head. From it, tourists will review the Sardar Sarovar Dam, as the accompanying commentary praises India’s national development success.

But let’s not forget the environmental and minority protection that has been sacrificed to achieve these goals.

Ruth Gamble is a David Myers researcher at La Trobe University and Alexander E. Davis is a New Generation Network fellow at La Trobe University.

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