More than eight decades after Mahatma Gandhi began the Salt Satyagraha in Gujarat’s Dandi, the proposal to honour the movement and the Mahatma by building a memorial is finally gathering pace.
The decision to construct a Dandi Memorial was mooted by the Ministry of Culture and announced by the Prime Minister in 2005 during the 75 anniversary of the movement. However, the plan has taken too long to execute for various reasons including delays in securing environmental clearances and tying up the monies.
“IIT-Bombay has appointed a comprehensive consultant to prepare the complete designs and estimates to facilitate construction. After the receipt of administrative approval and expenditure sanction, the tendering process for construction of the memorial in Dandi will be taken up by the Central Public Works Department,” CPWD Director-General V.K. Gupta told The Hindu.
The memorial will be constructed by the CPWD and funded by the Ministry of Culture. It has been conceptualised by IIT-Bombay’s national design team. In its proposal for the memorial, the Ministry has said the idea is to recreate “an experiential journey recreating the spirit and the energy of the Dandi March and taking the visitors step-by-step to understand the Dandi March story and the methodology of satyagraha”.
The proposed design will have a pathway towards the main memorial which will replicate the Dandi March route through 24 spaces representing the 24 halts. There will be panels with visual description giving information about the main events that occurred during the day’s journey to the halt.
“The challenge before the CPWD is to construct a memorial of 70 metres height with two stainless steel arms that will be illuminated at night. The CPWD is providing the necessary input to enable the national design team to finalise the design,” Mr. Gupta said.
The main memorial will be a statue of the Mahatma inside a pyramid of light, leading the marchers, followed by life-size sculptures of the group of marchers; two stylized hands raised skywards and carrying simulated salt crystals will form the canopy under which this sculpture will be placed.
The hands will be lit using solar energy with a bank of LED search lights floor-mounted around the rim of the base pedestal.
The design concept includes the gradual illumination of the pyramid as the sun goes down.
A small lake will also be constructed in the memorial complex, as a symbolical representation of the seaside where the Dandi March took place. The water body will create reflections of the monument from all sides, according to the Ministry’s design proposal.
“A block estimate of Rs. 64.40 crore has been prepared, which includes Rs.12.34 crore to carry out research and development with respect to the light pyramid, salt crystals, solar panels and custom designs for maintenance-free components. Another Rs.52.06 crore has been earmarked for construction of the memorial,” the CPWD chief said.