It is a Tribute To Indian Engineering Skills , built at a cost of over Rs 3,050 crore by an army of over 3,000 workers, including 300 engineers from Larsen & Toubro, in a time span of 40 months (work started in May 2015).
In comparison, it took China, known for building infrastructure at lightning speed, over 11 years to build the Spring Temple Buddha statue, which was the highest in the world .
The statue has been designed by a team lead by 93-year-old sculptor Ram V Sutar.
210,000 cubic metres of cement concrete, 18,500 tonnes of reinforced steel, 6,500 tonnes of structural steel, 1,700 tonnes of bronze, and around 1,850 tonnes of bronze cladding, made up of some 565 macro and 6,000 micro panels, were used to build the statue.
Natural factors like wind and earthquakes posed stiff challenges. Situated right in the middle of the river Narmada, the statue is exposed to the tunnel effect of winds blowing down the river. Studies of wind patterns over the years revealed wind speeds of 39 m per second (roughly translated into 130 km/hr. ) could buffet the statue in a worst-case scenario.
The statue has been engineered to withstand wind speeds of up to 50 m per second (almost 180 km/hr. ). The challenge is not only of the wind blowing against the statue but the succession effect it creates at the back of the statue that had to considered in the structural design.
Two 250-tonne mass dampers, which are installed in structures to reduce the amplitude of vibrations, have been used. As a result, the statue is capable of withstanding wind blowing at almost 220 km per hour and surviving earthquakes measuring up to 6.5 on the Richter Scale.
Walking pose of the Sardar
The Sardar’s legs are clad in a dhoti, his feet in chappals and in a walking pose that means that the statue is most slender at the base. This goes against the norms of what other tall statues have followed. The walking pose also opened up a gap of 6.4 meters between the two feet which then had to be tested to withstand wind velocity.
Another challenge came in the form of the look of the statue. Since Patel’s face was an important aspect, special care was taken in casting the facial features that had to be as close as possible to the Sardar’s face. As per the sculptor Ram Sutar’s original design, the statue was to have a poised countenance, with Patel’s head held high and arms by his sides emitting a feeling of power as well as warmth. The statue is also supposed to appear as if it is walking on water, towards the Sardar Sarovar dam, with its left leg slightly forward.
The actual features of the Sardar were decided through a participative exercise involving thousands of people. A mock-up was created and exhibited for people to see and comment on it.
Movement of Men and Material
The statue is located amidst remote, mountainous terrain, which posed enormous difficulties in delivery of materials. A temporary Bailey’s bridge connected the hill to the mainland.