Around 50 environmentalists from across the country have written to the Union Environment Ministry that Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project, Statue of Unity, envisaging a 182- metre statue of Sardar Patel inside Narmada river, 3.2 km downstream of Sardar Sarovar Dam and Shoolpaneshar Sanctuary, was working without environment approval.
This was an eco-sensitive zone, involving massive infrastructure. Work had started without the mandatory environment and social impact assessment or any public consultation process either, they said. “This is clearly illegal, in violation of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 and EIA notification of September 2006 and a number of NGT and Court orders about such massive kind of construction on the riverbed. On 31 October 2013, the foundation stone was laid for the project amidst huge fanfare and media attention. Tenders have also been floated. Even the work for the Garudeshwar weir, proposed about 12 km downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, began without any social or environmental impact assessment, public consultation and environmental clearance from the Environmental Sub Group (ESG) of Narmada Control Authority’s (NCA),” the environmentalists said.
The website >http://www.statueofunity.in/ pointed out that the project cost was more than Rs. 2,500 crore. The Government of Gujarat website clearly stated that it would be “a monument that will not just be a mute memorial like the rest, but a fully functional, purpose-serving tribute that will boost tourism and facilitate development in the surrounding tribal areas.”