Activists Seek Environment Impact Study for 'Statue of Unity'

Activists Seek Environment Impact Study for 'Statue of Unity'

Stating that environmental impact assessment (EIA) report was necessary for the proposed giant statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat, a group of activists today demanded immediate stoppage of work on the project.

The 'Statue of Unity', one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet projects, is a proposed 182 metres (597 ft) monument of India's first Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel that will be created on the island called Sadhu Bet near Vadodara.

The activists have petitioned the Union Environment Ministry stating that EIA report was required for the project.

A letter signed by over 20 activists, a copy of which has also been sent to the state Chief Minister Anandi Patel, said the work on the project awarded to a leading engineering firm should be immediately stopped.

"We seek immediate halt of all the activities related to project called 'Statue of Unity' planned inside Narmada River, 3.2 km at downstream of Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia in Narmada district by the Gujarat government, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET) and Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd," a letter written by Rohit Prajapati and 20 others said.

"The project is located just besides Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary and the statue will be constructed in the river bed," the letter said.

The project which is being constructed as an elaborate tourism project, will also have a 13 km artificial pond that will be used for boating, a museum and audio-visual gallery, a research centre, memorial garden, public plaza, roads and railway lines, it said.

"All these activities near the sanctuary for such a huge scale project require a detailed EIA study. The government should also have consulted the people in the vicinity of the project," they said.

In the letter, the activists claimed that the Gujarat government had told them that the project does not require EIA study.

"We had filed an RTI query in which we had asked about the EIA report. In reply, the state government told us that statue project does not require the assessment," it said. 

The letter further states that the impact of the project on the downstream areas of the Narmada river needs to be assessed.

"The study should also include the assessment of probability of damages in case of any eventuality like earthquake also," they demanded.

The activists have warned that they would seek legal recourse if the project work continues without the EIA study "as the project violates provisions of Environment Protection Act, 1986 and EIA notification of September 2006."

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