Tuesday, July 23, 2024
HomeNews ReportsStatue of Unity got a whopping 50 lakh visitors in 2023: How the monument...

Statue of Unity got a whopping 50 lakh visitors in 2023: How the monument defied propagandists who predicted doom a few years ago

At the time of its inauguration, several left-leaning ideologues such as Ravish Kumar, as well as YouTubers like Dhruv Rathee, had smugly claimed that the Statue of Unity would end up being a colossal disaster for the Modi government. However, like their most other predictions, this, too, has turned out to be an embarrassing failure.

In a remarkable achievement, 2023 marked the busiest year for Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s Statue of Unity, which stands tall on the Narmada River in Kevadia, Gujarat. The major tourist attraction site recorded its highest-ever annual footfall last year, which ended on Sunday. As per official data, over 50 lakh tourists visited the tallest statue in Ektanagar, which is the highest since its inauguration on 31st October 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Additionally, the statue built near the Narmada river in honour of the Visionary Freedom Fighter and ‘Iron Man’ Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel also recorded its highest-ever single-day visitors, with 80,000 tourists on Sunday, 24th December. 

As per official data, in the last five years, the Statue of Unity has registered more than 1.75 crore football. The ticket sales for the 182-meter-tall statue have generated revenue worth over Rs 400 crore as of October 2023. 

Since its inauguration, the site has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of tourists each year barring a little stint during the COVID pandemic. 

Strikingly, by 2019 itself, the site surpassed the Statue of Liberty in the USA in terms of average daily visitors. The Statue of Liberty sees a daily footfall of 10,000, whereas the Statue of Unity attracted 15,036 daily visitors in December 2019. 

On an annual basis, over 4.5 lakh tourists paid a visit to the Statue of Unity in its inaugural year. Next year, the site witnessed a sharp increase registering over 27.45 lakh visitors in 2019. However, on account of the COVID pandemic, the site was closed for several months, and the visitors count dropped to around 12.81 lakh. 

The number of visitors tripled to over 34.34 lakh in 2021 which increased further to over 46 lakh visitors in 2022. 

The Statue of Unity authorities said that while the statue of India’s first home minister Sardar Patel remains a major attraction, the Jungle Safari, Ekta Nursery, Glow Garden, and other spots too have become popular among the visitors. Furthermore, the management overseeing the tourism site has been adding new attractions every year to draw more visitors like river-rafting. 

Propagandists had carried out a tirade to run down the project as a failure

Incidentally, the staggering growth in visitor count at the Statue of Unity gains significance from the fact that initially, the mega tourism project by the Modi government was subjected to a smear campaign by the coterie of his deranged naysayers. Notably, the project was started in 2013 by Narendra Modi when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat and dedicated to the country in 2018 by Modi as Prime Minister of India. 

Citing the hefty project cost which roughly stands at Rs 3000 crore, Youtubers Dhruv Rathee, Deshbhakt aka Akash Banerjee, journalist-turned Youtuber Ravish Kumar among others had hurled a barrage of labels arguing that the project would be a grand failure. 

According to them, the project was an inevitable failure for varied reasons – 

  1. The project should not have been made in the first place. In fact, Sardar Patel wouldn’t have approved of the Statue of Unity if he were alive, asserted Ravish Kumar while dropping a moral guillotine over the project.  
  2. It would fail to make a break-even that is it wouldn’t be able to recover the cost incurred. For this, the liberals pulled a speculative percentage of cumulative visitors and revenue at other major tourist attraction sites. They did the math to come up with their pre-drawn conclusion that the project would take decades if not a century to recover its cost, hence a failure. 
  3. They peddled that it was a “Made in China” project and resultantly an embarrassment for the Modi government and a setback to its “Make in India” initiative, with a chuckle as they scored a brownie point.
  4. It is a Sanghi thing to build statues when the resources could be used for other Welfare schemes and building Education and healthcare infrastructure. Also, it was duplicity on the part of “Bhakts” to criticise Former UP CM Mayawati for building her own statues and Dr. Ambedkar’s while being boastfully proud of Sardar Patel’s statue, as part of Journalist Ravish Kumar’s script.   

Evidently, following the inauguration of the statue by PM Modi, Rathee uploaded the “harsh reality” of the Statue of Unity project. According to his “analysis”, the project was doomed to fail as the cost incurred was not judicious. To buttress his cynicism, he gave the example of other statues made around the world. 

He argued that since the statue was a mere multiple in terms of size vis-a-vis other statues, the project cost should roughly follow the same proportionality asserting that it was not as if the statue would be “Gold plated” or anything other than ordinary.  

Stating that the Taj Mahal registers a business of Rs 25 crore in a calendar year, Rathee emphasised that it would take SOU at least 120 years to achieve break even, with an insinuation that its Taj – one of the seven wonders of the World and not all tourist sites can equal leave alone surpass it, lest alone SOU. 

Busting the propaganda point by point

In his monologue, journalist Ravish Kumar also lamented that the Modi government had separated Sardar Patel from his Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as if we already don’t have enough monuments, institutions, and awards named and designated solely in his honour, leaving out Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel.

Remarkably, if Sardar Patel were alive today, he might have declined such an honor, as many legendary figures tend to do (excluding a few instances where individuals bestowed the highest honor upon themselves). Mind you, it is uncanny to carve a statue of a living man. Had he been alive many problems wouldn’t have lingered for decades – although, that’s a separate matter. 

Nevertheless, the nation and society would have expressed their gratitude to the great man through different means. The development project to boast tourism would have taken a different shape altogether. Having said that, mega statues in honour of society’s legends are not a pejorative thing, as was the underlying tone of the said assertion. Such sermonising assertions had been unabated on account of anti-Modi cynicism and trumpeting a bandwagon of literal negation of what the Modi government does.  

Secondly, the skewed argument of speculative revenue by Rathee falters on many counts including the fact that ticket revenue is only one small component in the tourism sector. A tourism site gives a facelift to every player involved be it involved in logistics, food, vendors, sports, or allied activities among others. Even on that count, Ratee’s speculative figure of Rs 2.5 crore (10% of the Taj Mahal’s ticket revenue) was breached manifolds as SOU collected nearly Rs 80 crore each year on tickets (Rs 400 crore in 5 years as stated above). 

There was a lot of misinformation spread about the Statue of Unity. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly told the lie that the statue will be ‘Made in China’. In the year 2015, Outlook had claimed that L&T had given the work of constructing the statue to a Chinese Foundry. The article mocked Modi’s “Make in India” campaign, by branding the Patel statue as “Made in China”. We had debunked this lie by Outlook in 2015 itself. L&T had in fact issued two statements countering this baseless story.

In attacking the statue, they also indulged in whataboutery, reminding how ‘bhakts’ had criticised statues that Mayawati had built as UP chief minister and memorials of Gandhi-Nehru family members.

It is unfathomable how can someone compare statue of the iron man of India built almost 70 years after his death to the dozens of statues that Mayawati had built during her own lifetime. And no, people didn’t attack Mayawati for building B R Ambedkar statues, most of the criticism was aimed at statues of Mayawati herself, and her party’s election symbol, the Elephant. And it was not that only ‘bhakts’ criticised the Mayawati statues, it was criticised by people from all political ideologies, including prominent journalists.

In fact, those ‘bhakts’ and eminent journalists shared the same feelings, no problem with parks and Ambedkar statues, but why build your own statues, that too so many? However, Rajdeep sang a different tune later, perhaps because it was the Modi government that built and inaugurated the Statue of Unity.

However, the leftist propaganda got badly bruised from the fact that Gujarat was already a top tourist destination in the nation with its historical monuments, and outside the cabal, it was not unethically wrong to expect that the Statue of Unity would become one of the most visit tourist attraction sites in the country. 

Five years down the line, it is clear that the project is a big hit among tourists and it has helped the local economy to flourish. With direct and indirect employment to hundreds of people and over 13% (Rs 400 crore out of Rs 3000 crore) of project cost recovered in five years through ticket revenue alone, with other streams of revenue in the project chipping in, the Statue of Unity has entered the New Year standing tall over the residue of litany of lies and propaganda.  

Join OpIndia's official WhatsApp channel

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Paurush Gupta
Paurush Gupta
Proud Bhartiya, Hindu, Karma believer. Accidental Journalist who loves to read and write. Keen observer of National Politics and Geopolitics. Cinephile.

Related Articles

Trending now

Recently Popular

- Advertisement -