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Egis India Consulting Engineers, an Indian affiliate of French infrastructure behemoth Egis Group, is no stranger to challenges. It is executing the ambitious Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial, a Rs 3,600 crore project in the middle of the Arabian Sea, and had also been given the responsibility to oversee the Sardar Patel Memorial (Statue of Unity) being built by Larsen & Toubro in Gujarat. In an interview, Ashish Tandon, the managing director of Egis India tells Sai Manish his company is up for the challenge of building the Ram statue and its supporting tourism infrastructure in Ayodhya when the project gets a formal approval from authorities. What were the engineering and other challenges you encountered while preparing the detailed project report for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial? The Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial is going to be one of the greatest man-made engineering marvels in India in recent times. The memorial is being constructed in the Arabian Sea and will be around two-and-a-half times the size of the Statue of Liberty. There was a lot of R&D involved to meet the design life of the statue beyond the standard codes of engineering. We have consulted experts from around the world – both in-house & external. We have deployed cutting edge, state-of-the-art technology and processes to protect the statue from the negative effects posed by a hostile marine environment. As a global consultant, we have the experience of being associated with the maintenance of the Eiffel Tower in France. This privilege has given us access to a lot of data and learnings on large global structures, which we have extensively used to design this unique structure in the best possible way. Since we don’t have a precedence in this country for a similar structure, it has been difficult and challenging. The area where we are planning the memorial is submerged under the ocean for nearly 21 hours a day.
We have deployed some of the most sophisticated instruments such as drones and other technologies to study and develop the design. So it has been quite challenging and a huge learning experience. What was the difference in your approach while planning the Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial and Statue of Unity in Gujarat? We will not be in a position to comment on the planning of Statue of Unity as we have a very specific role as the proof consultant. For the Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial, we are looking at creating something extraordinary and unique which sets a new benchmark not just for projects in India but also for the world. What is the total cost of material to be used in Statue of Unity? What will be its impact on boosting tourism in Gujarat? As proof consultants, our role has been to check and supervise the designs and layouts. So cost wise we will not be in a position to comment. On the tourism front, I think all large and tall structures tend to boost tourism, both domestic and international. There are historic and recreational facilities created around the memorial which will be of great interest to visitors. Since India today has only about one per cent of the global tourist population and Incredible India is promoted actively by the government, the Statue of Unity could be one of the major attractions for visitors to the state. The Governor of Uttar Pradesh has said the state government would set up a tourism park that includes beautification of ghats and construction of a Lord Ram statue on the banks of the Sarayu river in Faizabad district. Given your expertise in two of the biggest such projects in India, would you advise the government on this project? Yes if the government of UP gives us an opportunity to do so. What are the potential benefits of the proposed Lord Ram statue and supporting infrastructure? How will the structure boost tourism in Ayodhya in particular and Faizabad district as a whole? Uttar Pradesh has always been a tourism-friendly destination, with a lot of tourist attractions -- be it the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri or the Bhool Bhulaiya. The statue of Lord Ram will only enhance the tourism potential of the state as it has the potential to become an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus in India and from around the world.