The Featured Project: Statue of Unity
Raju D Dhole, PMP
The featured project is a new addition to Essence from Jan 2020 edition. Objective of this article is to bring out excellence from mega projects across the world.
A tributary endeavor to the Iron Man of India, the Statue of Unity is an iconic 182-metre-tall statue situated on the isle of Sadhu-Bet. Located between the Mountain Ranges of Vindhyachal and Satpuda.
The Statue of Unity is located 90 kms from Vadodara, 150 kms from Surat and 200 kms from Ahmedabad. This project is hailed as an engineering marvel.
The Statue of Unity is the world’s tallest statue at 182 meters (597 ft). It rises 54 meters (177 ft) higher than the previous record holder, the Spring Temple Buddha in China’s Henan province. The previous tallest statue in India was the 41 m (135 ft) statue of Hanuman at the Paritala Anjaneya Temple near Vijayawada in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Design and construction:
After studying numerous statues of Patel across the country, a team of historians, artists, and academics chose to proceed with a design submitted by the Indian sculptor, Ram V. Sutar. The Statue of Unity is a much larger replica of a statue of the leader installed at Ahmedabad International Airport. Commenting on the design, Ram Sutar’s son, Anil Sutar, explains that “the expression, posture and pose justify the dignity, confidence, iron will as well as kindness that his personality exudes. The head is up, a shawl flung from shoulders and hands are on the side as if he is set to walk”. Three models of the design measuring 3 feet (0.91 m), 18 feet (5.5 m), and 30 feet (9.1 m) were initially created. Once the design of the largest model was approved, a detailed 3D-scan was produced which formed the basis for the bronze cladding cast in a foundry in China.
The total height of the structure is 240 m (790 ft), with a base of 58 m (190 ft) and statue of 182 m (597 ft). The height of 182 was specifically chosen to match the number of seats in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly.
The statue of Unity was built by –Public Private Partnership model, with most of the money raised by the Government of Gujarat. The Gujarat state government had allotted N500 crore (equivalent to N564 crore or US$82 million in 2018) for the project in the budget from 2012 to 2015. In the –201415 Union Budget, N200 crore (equivalent to N239 crore or US$35 million in 2018) were allocated for the construction of the statue. Funds were also contributed by Public Sector Undertakings under Corporate Social Responsibility scheme.
A consortium comprising Turner Construction, Michael Graves and Associates and the Meinhardt Group supervised the project. It took 57 months to complete – 15 months for planning, 40 months for construction and two months for handing over by the consortium. The total cost of the project was estimated to be about N2,063 crore (equivalent to N25 billion or US$360 million in 2018) by the government.
Indian infrastructure company Larsen & Toubro won the contract on 27 October 2014 for its lowest bid of N2,989 crore (equivalent to N36 billion or US$520 million in 2018) for the design, construction and maintenance. They commenced the construction on 31 October 2014. In the first phase of the project, N1,347 crore were for the main statue, N235 crore for the exhibition hall and convention Centre, N83 crore for the bridge connecting the memorial to the mainland and N657 crore for the maintenance of the structure for 15 years after its completion. The Sadhu Bet hillock was flattened from 70 to 55 meters to lay the foundation.
L&T employed over 3000 workers and 250 engineers in the statue’s construction. The core of the statue used 210,000 cubic meters (7,400,000 cu ft) of cement concrete, 6500 tons of structural steel, and 18500 tons of reinforced steel. The outer façade is made up of 1700 tons of bronze plates and 1850 tons of bronze cladding which in turn comprise 565 macro and 6000 micro panels. The bronze panels were cast in Jiangxi Tonging Metal Handicrafts Co. Ltd (the TQ Art foundry) in China as suitable facilities were unavailable in India. The bronze panels were transported over sea and then by road to the workshop near the construction site where they were assembled.
The gigantic project required years-long dedication and confronted an array of issues and challenges.
Patel’s dhoti-clad legs and the use of sandals for footwear rendered the design thinner at the base than at the top thereby affecting its stability. This was addressed by maintaining a slenderness ratio of 16:19 rather than the customary 8:14 ratio of other tall buildings.
The statue is built to withstand winds of up to 180 kilometers per hour (110 mph) and earthquakes measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale which are at a depth of 10 km and within a radius of 12 km of the statue. This is aided by the use of two 250-tonne tuned mass dampers which ensure maximum stability.
Another challenge came in the form of the looks of the statue since Patel’s face will be an important aspect, special care has been given on the last few meters, comprising the head and shoulders. Two weeks to complete the face were set aside in the beginning of October 2018.
Overall coordination to manage the tasks between various execution agencies was a biggest challenge. Just in time engagement of vendors kept the costs in control and avoided idle time.
Over 128,000 tourists visited it in 11 days after it was opened to the public on 1 November 2018. The daily average tourist footfall at Statue of Unity during November 2019 reached 15,036, outpacing Statue of Liberty (attracts around 10,000 daily visitors on average). A total of 3.36 million tourists have visited the statue till December 2019. Statue of unity will be a major tourist attraction, in years to come.