Gandhinagar: The Gujarat government on Monday issued a 2,989 crore work order to Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) to build the Statue of Unity, a 182-metre-tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first home minister.

Billed as the world’s tallest statue, this is one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet projects.

Modi had announced the project on 31 October 2013, the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel. Modi was then the chief minister of Gujarat.

The central government allotted 200 crore for the project in its July budget.

A tribute to the “Iron Man of India", the memorial will be built with iron pieces collected from farmers across the country.

Modi had launched a massive iron collection drive last year, with senior state ministers and bureaucrats visiting states across the country and collecting pieces of iron from all Indian villages.

The statue will be twice the size of the Statue of Liberty in the US and four times the size of Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

It will be built on a rocky island on the Narmada river, 3.5km south of the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia in Narmada district of Gujarat.

Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, who announced the work order at a press meet in Gandhinagar on Monday, said that the government expects about 2.5 million tourists to visit the site every year, giving tourism a big boost.

The construction of the statue, along with an exhibition hall, a man-made lake and a bridge connecting the Sadhu island with the mainland, hotel and convention centre, is expected to be completed in 2018, Patel said.

The project also includes a memorial park at the base of the statue, a visitor facilitation centre and a reception desk.

The height of the statue from the base will be 240 metres, which includes a base level of 58 metres.

Of the total contract value of 2,989 crore, 1,347 crore is meant for building the statue and 235 crore for constructing the exhibition centre and convention centre.

The remainder will go into building research and development centres and the bridge connecting the memorial with the mainland.

L&T will maintain and manage the project site for 15 years after finishing construction and will be paid 657 crore over the period.

L&T’s senior executive vice-president (infrastructure and construction), S.N. Subrahmanyan, received the work order from K. Srinivasan, member secretary, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), the nodal agency for executing the project.

Patel said that the iconic structure and additional facilities being set up in the predominantly tribal area will play an important role in the socio-economic development of the region and create jobs.

L&T’s Subrahmanyan said that the statue will be made up of a steel frame on which around 13,000 bronze panels will be fitted.

There will be a viewing gallery at about 152 metres, where over 200 people will be able to stand at any one time and view the Sardar Sarovar Dam, he said. More than 60,000 tonnes of steel will be used in building the statue.

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