After waiting for decline in footfall, Gujarat govt shuts down SoU. Image Source: IANS News

Gandhinagar, March 18 : While advising everybody else to take precautionary measures against coronavirus outbreak and advocating against mass gatherings, the Gujarat government itself failed to lead by exemplary action as it waited for a long time for the footfall to decrease and then decided to shut down the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project, the 'Statue of Unity'.

The Statue of Unity (SoU), the tallest statue in the world of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, is a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The 182 metres tall structure, at Kevadia in Narmada district, is heavily flocked with around 15 to 20 thousand visitors everyday.

Regarding the present global crisis of COVID-19 virus outbreak, the central government has issued an advisory, asking people to avoid large public gatherings, mass gatherings. Following this, the Gujarat government issued guidelines seeking the public, educational, religious institutes to be shut down. However, the Gujarat state Assembly and the SoU, where thousands of people visit everyday, were kept open for the public.

The SoU was open for all till Tuesday. However, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday ordered the closure of the SoU after the footfall decreased over a couple of days.

"There has been in a 60 per cent decrease in the number of visitors to the SoU, we came to know about that after consultations with the Narmada collector. So even before the advisory, people of their own accord had decreased. The SoU is closed for public for a period of 10 days," said Jayanti Ravi, the principal secretary, Health and family welfare department, Gujarat.

When asked that when other Government and private setups are being asked to shut down till March 31st, why didn't the same apply to the SoU? "The extension of the closure of SoU will be decided if there will be a need of it and if the cases of COVID-19 rise," said Ravi.

The secretary was also unsure about following of the guidelines regarding employees to work from home, for the Gujarat government employees.

"We have asked the private firms, companies, businesses to let the employees work from home if possible. For the government employees, we shall see," Ravi said.

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