India unveils world’s tallest statue

India prepares to inaugurate the world's tallest statue

India prepares to inaugurate the world's tallest statue

"The Statue of Unity" project was announced by Modi back in 2010 when he was still the chief minister for the state of Gujarat.

The statue depicts Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India's first Home Minister, wearing a traditional dhoti and shawl, towering over river Narmada.

"Patel wanted India to be a forceful, strong, sensitive, vigilant and accommodative nation, and we're working toward that", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at Wednesday's ceremony.

"Ironic that a statue of Sardar Patel is being inaugurated, but every institution he helped build is being smashed", Gandhi said on social network Twitter, using an honorific for Patel. Sardar Patel is credited for unifying all of the 562 princely states in pre-independence India to form what is today the Republic of India. And it has surpassed the height of the Spring Temple Buddha in China which, at 128m, was previously the tallest in the world.

The statue has been sculpted by the famous Indian father-son duo of Ram and Anil Sutar, noted for their depictions of various Indian politicians. It is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in the USA and is built on Sadhu Bet, an islet near the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

Mr Modi will dedicate the statue on October 31, Wednesday.

Addressing the gathering, Modi said, "This is a project we thought when I was the hief minister of Gujarat".

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"We bow to the great Sardar Patel, the stalwart who unified India and served the nation tirelessly, on his Jayanti", he tweeted.

The Prime Minister in his speech hit out at critics and opposition parties, who have questioned the government's decision to construct the memorial.

Vijendra Tadvi, 39, told the BBC: "Instead of spending money on a giant statue, the government should have used it for farmers in the district".

A viewing gallery has been created at a height of 135 metres inside the statue to enable tourists to have a view of the dam and nearby mountain ranges.

The monument will have a museum with 40,000 documents, 2,000 photographs and a research centre dedicated to Patel's life and work.

It is situated in Gujarat, about 100 km's (60 miles) from the nearest city of Vadodora. But the authorities are taking no chances in case community groups stage protests to demand compensation for land taken to erect the Statue of Unity, which cost 29.9 billion rupees.

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