Skip to main content

Statue of Unity: Sardar would have been "uncomfortable" seeing so many laws violated

The "tallest" statue
Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicating the 182-metres high statue of Sardar Patel to the nation, a well-known advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), has said that even the Sardar would have felt "uncomfortable" with the so-called Statue of Unity. The reason, according to SANDRP, is that the statue has been built setting aside all environmental and legal prerequisites.
SANDRP wonders how "uncomfortable would Sardar be seeing so many violations of law" at a whopping cost of Rs 3000 crore, on hand, and "land acquisition and displacement of so many tribal people, who do not have basic developmental facilities or justice till date", on the other.

SANDRP analysis:

Consider the facts: The 600 feet tall statue of Sardar Patel that the Prime Minister of India will inaugurate on Patel’s Birthday on October 31, 2018 is situated bang in the middle of the Narmada river. To take up such unprecedented construction in the middle of the river would require, at the least, environment clearance, since the construction would have huge impacts on the river. No such clearance was sought or given. It would have required environmental impact assessment, environmental management plan, appraisal, public consultations, monitoring and compliance. None of this happened.
The project involves not only the construction of the statue, but also laying new roads, widening existing roads, setting up five star and other multi star hotels, guest houses by various states, tent city (tender issued), ropeway (tender issued), tiger and crocodile safari, and so on, which would also have adverse impacts, requiring the above procedure, but none happened.
The statue is to be surrounded by water to be dammed by Garudeshwar Dam, on Narmada river, again requiring social and environment impacts assessment and clearances, but none were sought or given.
The statue is built from the southern side of Narmada river, 3.2 km downstream from the Narmada Dam. On northern side is the Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary and reserved forests, which means that such a construction would require wildlife clearance, but again none was sought or given.
How uncomfortable would Sardar be seeing so many violations of law? Seeing the expenditure of Rs 3000 crores? Seeing the land acquisition and displacement of so many tribal people, who do not have basic developmental facilities or justice till date?
Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel, Independent India’s first home and deputy Prime Minister, was a successful lawyer before he left that profession to join Gandhi in freedom struggle. He would have been happy to fight a case against all these illegalities and injustices involved in building the statue.
As he once said:
“If we have to fight, we must fight clean. Such a fight must await an appropriate time and conditions and you must be watchful in choosing your ground. To fight against refugees is no fight at all. No laws of humanity or war among honourable men permit the murder of people who have sought shelter and protection.”
Unfortunately, he may have lost that legal battle. Gujarat High Court, in order dated January 13, 2014, in Writ Petition (PIL) 142 of 2013, challenging the plans of the statue, rejected the petition, without going into issue of impacts or violation of Environment Protection Act 1986 or Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
The Western Zone branch of the National Green Tribunal, in response to application no 32 of 2015 by late Trupti Shah and nine others, challenging the plans of the Statue of Unity, rejected the appeal through an order dated January 28, 2016, without going into merits of the case:
“Considering the fact situation in the instant case, in our considered opinion, instant Application No.32/2015 is barred by limitation and will have to be dismissed. Still however, we make it clear that this dismissal is not to be treated as precedent for other purpose. All the questions related to the matter are kept open for both the sides and may not be treated as foreclosed for any purpose.”
But Sardar Patel was also a staunch satyagrahi and would not hesitate to fight for justice, as tribals and others of Gujarat are now doing.
Sardar Patel said in his presidential address to the Congress in 1931:
“Independent India’s leaders would neither use a foreign language nor rule from a remote place 7,000 feet above sea level.”He would certainly feel very uncomfortable even from that height of 600 feet.

Comments

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.