Gujarat minister in Himachal kick-starts soil, iron collection for Sardar Patel statue

Gujarat Higher Education Minister Vasuben Trivedi on Tuesday kick-started Narendra Modi's ambitious plan to build the world's highest statue - the Statue of Unity - of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Himachal Pradesh. Now, BJP leaders are set to tour every village in the state and collect soil and iron for the construction of the statue.

Heading a Gujarat government delegation, Trivedi said: "Though it is a government project and does not need individual contributions, but the whole idea is to involve farmers, students, social activists and patriotic citizens symbolically and get their endorsement to the project."

"We will approach farmers to donate just a small piece of iron from their agriculture implements and a little bit of soil and send it in a kit with signatures of all villagers. This is a three-tier campaign, started by the Modi, to implement the project," she told mediapersons.

Jairam Thakur, a former minister and sitting MLA - who is coordinator for Himachal Pradesh - said the drive to collect iron and soil from the state will begin on December 15. As many as 565 towns in India will witness a run for unity and Shimla will be one of the venues.

"We have several religious shrines and temples, beside dev sathans, which will also be part of the drive to collect soil for the statue," Thakur added. The construction is estimated to cost Rs 2,500 crore and will be completed in four years.

Asked whether the absence of Narendra Modi from the Gujarat is affecting the government's functioning, Trivedi said: "Not at all. Come and see yourself. Modi is not absent from Gujarat and the state still remains a model of good governance and development."

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