India deploys huge security for inauguration of world's biggest statue

India deploys huge security for inauguration of world's biggest statue

General view of the "Statue of Unity" portraying Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the founding fathers of India, during its inauguration in Kevadia, in the western state of Gujarat, India, October 31, 2018. The villagers claim that there has been widespread destruction to the environment due to the memorial and that the government has done little to rehabilitate those who have been displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Dam and statue projects. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Patel hail from Gujarat state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the "statue of unity" would serve as a major tourist attraction. Iron was collected from all over the country for the statue of Sardar Patel, also known as the Iron Man of India.The statue can withstand severe wind velocity and severe earthquakes.

At 597 feet, it is reportedly the tallest statue in the world, and almost twice the size of New York's Statue of Liberty.

The letter to Mr Modi said: "When we are still struggling to avail basic infrastructural facilities for schools, hospitals and drinking water, you decide to spend crores of rupees for the construction of a statue and now again for the inaugural event". But 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 INR29.9 billion ($400 million).

Ram Vanji Sutar, a Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri recipient, now has another achievement to his credit. Facing the Narmada Dam, the statue is on a river island called Sadhu Bet near Rajpipla in Gujarat.

Some of the leaders Modi has branded as "forgotten" came from the opposition Congress party, and fought for independence from colonial ruler Britain in 1947.

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The Prime Minister will address the gathering.

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".

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

Apart from the gallery, a museum is dedicated to Sardar Patel, at the base of the structure which will have 40,000 documents, 2,000 pictures and a research centre.

Indian authorities hope the statue will attract 15,000 visitors a day to the remote corner of Gujarat, which is about 100km from the nearest city of Vadodora.

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