In the run-up to Lok Sabha elections of 2019, an article titled “Even if Statue of Unity becomes as famous as Taj Mahal, we may need 120 years to break even” was published in the Shekhar Gupta’s The Print. This article was written by Dhruv Rathee, seen by some as pro-Congress and some as pro-AAP blogger and YouTuber.
In the article, the writer took a very critical view of the Statue of Unity project. He had said, “The Sardar Patel statue is about political symbolism, and does not add to India’s rich culture and history.”
Screenshot of the article published on The Print
To prove his point that construction of Statue of Unity at the cost of $430 million (Rs 3,000 crore) is nonsensical, he gives the following argument.
“Economically, this statue makes no sense either. The Taj Mahal is the most visited tourist attraction in India, which earns an annual revenue of Rs 25 crore from 8 million tourists. It would be optimistic to hope that the Sardar Patel Statue of Unity will get even a tenth of that number. But even if we assume that the Statue of Unity becomes as popular as the Taj Mahal, it would take more than 120 years to just break even. Add to that the maintenance cost, and it probably will never even become profitable.”
How Actual Data Calls Out His Bluff
The statue was opened to tourists in November 2018. According to a recent report, about 20.68 lakh tourists have already visited the statue in the last 10 months since it was first opened. This has generated a revenue of Rs 53.49 crore.
#StatueofUnity crosses 2 Million visitor mark in just a few months’ time after Hon @PMOIndia dedicated the #TallestStatue in the world as a remarkable tribute to #IronManofIndia.It has become one of the most visited monuments in India in a very short time @CMOGuj @drrajivguptaias pic.twitter.com/Gy4W6BGB8V
— Statue Of Unity (@souindia) August 12, 2019
The article in The Print had said it would be optimistic to hope that Sardar Patel’s statue will get even a tenth of the number of tourists who visit Taj Mahal (or 8 lakh a year). Actual figures now show that more than 20.68 lakh tourists have already visited the world’s tallest statue in less than a year’s time. It is about 2.5 times than what the writer of that article had claimed. So, the reality busts the fake narrative about the project.
Apart from the number of tourists, the area around the Statue of Unity is seeing fast-paced development. According to the Financial Express report, “The administration of Narmada district is planning to introduce homestay facility for tourists visiting the world’s tallest statue, located in Kevadia Colony.” This homestay project will help in empowering the rural tribal women of the area to earn a living.
Let’s take a look at how the Statue of Unity is creating buzz globally.
The Statue was selected for World Architecture News awards 2019. Further, according to the World Architecture News website, the Statue of Unity is estimated to generate approximately 15,000 direct jobs for tribal people every year in the tourism sector.
After World Architecture News, Time Magazine has included this world tallest statue in its list of world’s greatest places of 2019.
This international buzz, increasing its awareness among international tourists, will help in attracting more tourists.
Thus, the Statue of Unity is not only opening up new economic opportunities in the areas around. But it is also adding to India’s tourism profile.
Dhruv Rathee in The Print article made very simplistic and childish arguments to discredit the statue. But even his childish argument has been fact-checked by reality.