15-foot replica of proposed Statue of Unity draws tourists to Narmada dam

Even as work on one of the most ambitious projects of the Narendra Modi government, the 182-metre-tall Statue of Unity, is set to start soon with tender floated for the same a few days ago, a much smaller statue of Sardar Patel in comparison, situated in front of the Narmada dam, has continued to attract visitors coming to view the overflowing dam for more than a decade.

Inaugurated by senior BJP leader and party patriarch L K Advani in October 31, 2000, when he was the Union home minister in the Vajpayee government, the statue is 15-foot-tall and stands right in front of the dam, at a glass cabin view point that most visitors go to have a glimpse of the dam from up close. It will be nearly 3 kms from the proposed 182-metre statue, which will come up at Sadhu Bet hillock.

Locals, who had attended the ceremony of the inauguration of the statue, said state BJP leaders including the then CM Keshubhai Patel were among those who attended the function. The Supreme Court (SC) recently allowed the dam's height to be increased to 90 metres from the existing 88 metres. Before that, in February 1999, the SC had given green signal to raise dam height to 88 metre from 80 metre. Thousands of locals had gathered for the function.

A visitor from Vadodara, Harsh Rana, who went to see the overflowing dam along with his family members, said he was glad to see Sardar Patel statue at the dam site.

"As Chief Minister Narendra Modi plans to build the world's tallest statue of Sardar Patel near Narmada dam, his senior, L K Advani had paid tributes to Sardar Patel more than a decade back at the dam site. This is no less than a tribute to Sardar Patel, though the proposed 182-metre statue will help spread the name of Gujarat and Sardar Patel all over the world and will attract tourists here," he said.

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