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Iron man statue is outsourcing magnet

The Rs 2,989-crore project to build Statue Of Unity (SOU), dedicated to Sardar Vallabhai Patel, is a befitting tribute to a man who forged India together and gave the country its founding frame. The monument coming up on Sadhu Bet in Kevadia near Sardar Sarovar Dam, could have been a symbol of the ‘Make in India’ pride-encouraging home-grown industries, artists and project management skills -but, somehow it seems falling short of what a patriot like Sardar would have expected.

Sardar had always wanted that the creative skills and energy of small scale and cottage industries in India should be used for nation building.Even in the year he died, in 1950, he was quoted in an article in Harijan Bandhu mentioning this.

But right from the stage of conceptualising the statue and execution of work and project, the management has involved several foreign firms.

Until a month before he died in November 1950, Sardar kept warning Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that “Chinese do not regard us (India) as their friends.” But the making of the 5,000-odd bronze plates, which will give form to the SOU are being smelted and cast in a foundry unit in China’s Nanchang province.

The work was sub-let to the Chinese foundry by Larsen Toubro India, which had won the contract for designing and construction of the SOU in October 2014.

It’s worth mentioning here that India has 4,600 foundry units employing over 5 lakh people, and is second largest in the world in the foundry sector.

The foreign role has been persistent from the beginning of the SOU project. The Gujarat government had hired a US-based project consultant, who in turn hired Joseph Menna, an American 3D sculptor and statue engineer in Philadelphia to make the SOU’s first digital proof-of-the-concept model. Menna is known for making cartoon models for DC comics (collectables) McFarlane Toys, Dark Horse Comics, Mattel, Fisher-Price, Hasbro, and other characters in the US.

“Menna’s digital proof was an adaptation of Padma Shree and Padma Bhushan sculptor Ram V Sutar’s Sardar statue at Ahmedabad airport.The government realized it and then asked LT to hire services of Sutar instead,” said a senior Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNL) official on condition of anonymity .

“Ram V Sutar’s first statue of Sardar was installed in Parliament in 1998. Another was installed at the Ahmedabad airport in 2011,” said Anil Sutar, Ram Sutar’s son. “The Statue of Unity is a replica of the Ahmedabad airport Sardar statue,” he said, adding, “A committee from Ahmedabad had visited us last year to inspect the clay model.”

The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), the SPV for the statue, had chosen as consultants Turner Project Management Pvt Ltd, Michael Graves and Associates, USA and Meinhardt India Pvt Ltd in 2012 for project management and construction management services. To develop a museum exhibit on Sardar Patel, Lord Cultural Resources, the world’s largest and oldest cultural museum planning firm, headquartered in Toronto, Canada has been roped in.

A major controversy was raked up when the bronze plates for the statue, almost weighing 22,500 tonnes -forming Sardar’s skin and clothes on SOU -were being smelted and cast in China’s Nanchang province at the world’s largest foundry -the Jiangxi Toqine Metal Handicrafts Co Ltd.

Scholars point out letters written by Sardar to PM Jawaharlal Nehru warning him of Chinese military and intelligence, and China’s “threat to India, both on the frontier and to internal security”. The letter mentioning threat from China is among crucial Indian Constitution documents compiled by K M Munshi, a member of the Constitution committee.

It is not only this, the SVPRET, the SPV overlooking the project claims that it had collected 700 tonnes of iron farm implements donated by people across India to be used in the statue’s construc tion. But just 105 tonnes of the donated metal was used.

Article source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Iron-man-statue-is-outsourcing-magnet/articleshow/55136676.cms

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