Modi announced his plans for the statue in 2010, when he was still chief minister of Gujarat, and its foundation was laid in 2013. During its construction, the $400 million project ran into many controversies, not least of which was how much this new landmark of Indian patriotism owes China. The bronze cladding work was contracted out by Larsen & Toubro, the engineering firm that has built the statue and surrounding complex, to Chinese foundry Jiangxi Tongqing Metal Handicrafts.
Based in southeastern China, the firm has worked on other monumental statues, mainly of the Buddha or his disciples, though nothing of this scale. The foundry couldn’t immediately be reached for more details on its work on the statue.
Larsen & Toubro, according to a person in India who was involved in the project, considered foundries globally and within India before settling on a Chinese foundry. Given the execution challenges and strict timeline, it was decided that there was “no point in experimenting with new players,” he said.
The main concern was not taking a risk with Patel’s appearance—which is well known—and risking an angry outcry.
Only a limited number of Chinese workers traveled to India to help lay the cladding, he added, which accounts for less than 10% of overall materials used. In India, the “iron man’s” local workforce consisted of 300 engineers, and some 3,500 construction workers.