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Gujarat Statue of Unity attracted 2.9 million tourists, earned Rs 82 crore in one year

IBEF:  December 11, 2019

The Statue of Unity in Kevadiya in Gujarat's Narmada district attracted over 29 lakh tourists generating a revenue of Rs 82.51 crore (US$ 11.81 million), since its inaugural on October 31 last year, the state government told the Assembly on Tuesday.

The Gujarat government will propose Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Bill, 2019 in the Assembly as there is requirement to develop the area nearby due to the ever-increasing number of tourists from all over the country and abroad.

"As many as 29.38 lakh tourists visited the imposing structure near the Sardar Sarovar Dam between November 1, 2018 till November 16 this year, and had earned revenue of Rs 82.51 crore (US$ 11.81 million) during this period," said Deputy Chief Minister Mr Nitin Patel in his written reply during Question Hour to a query raised by Congress MLA Chandrika Bariya.

Gujarat Forest Minister Mr Ganpat Vasava told the Assembly that the amount spent in procurement of animals and birds for a jungle safari near the Sardar Patel memorial is around Rs 2.64 crore (US$ 0.38 million).

Though, The Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Bill, 2019 faced opposition from the Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani, stating that this will badly affect tribals in the region.

"On the pretext of Statue of Unity of Sardar Patel, which was constructed in Kevadiya against wishes of tribals living in the area, the government plans to snatch land and displace tribals from 70 more villages there against provisions of Schedule 5 of the Constitution," Mr Mevani said.

"I call upon 40 MLAs from tribal and Dalit communities in the state Assembly to come together and oppose the Bill," he added.

The Bill will support the development of the area and aid in management of tourism in and around the Statue of Unity at Kevadiya by offering essential infrastructure through effective planning and administration".

The idea behind the formation of "Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Authority" is that there is increase in number of tourists from all over the country and abroad, thus, the state government has felt an imminent need for developing the area," the government said.

The authority will implement provisions of the Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act, 1976, and control and regulate development, with district police authorised to assist it, the govern said.

The bill permits the authority to take disciplinary action, including jail term and fine, against persons found to be engaged in unauthorised development, touting or malpractice against any tourism, involved in begging or unauthorised hawking, creating nuisance and damage leading to adverse effect on tourism.

The SOU tourism authority, headed by a chairman appointed by state government, will have officers of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), state urban development department, tourism development department, collector of Narmada, chief town planner and principal chief conservator of forest, among others, in the twenty-member body.

The land acquired for the developer of the region will be deemed as land needed for public purpose and will come under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, it said.

So far, the Forest department, has brought five alpacas, four llamas, four wallabies from different countries to the safari site near the Statue of Unity, said Mr Ganpat Vasava in his written reply to a question by Congress MLA J V Kakadiya.

Animals and birds brought from other states consist of marmosets, green iguanas, lemurs, capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, ostriches, scarlet macaws, green winged macaws, golden pheasants and lady amherst pheasants among others.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.