India now the proud owner of the world’s tallest statue

Work in full swing at the site of the Statue of Unity in Kevadia colony on Thursday for the unveiling ceremony

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday unveiled the Statue of Unity, the world's tallest statue that pays a tribute to the legendary freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, in Gujarat. It will be more than 50 metres taller than China's Spring Temple Buddha, the world's current record holder, at 128 metres.

Gujarat Governor O P Kohli, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and BJP chief Amit Shah were present at the unveiling of the "Statue of Unity". Since the statue has been constructed on the Sadhu Bet Island on the Narmada River, visitors can see the Sardar Sarovar Dam laid out in front of them from there.

But the authorities took no chances in case community groups staged protests to condemn the decision to spend 29.9 billion rupees (S$560 million) - much of it public funds - to build the statue over almost four years.

Air force jets and helicopters showered flower petals on the statue during the lavish ceremony, while some 5,000 police officers patrolled the area around the statue. Hundreds of Chinese have been among the 3,500 workers involved in its construction. "It is a tribute to the man who united India, Sardar Patel". The Statue of Unity is just under half as tall as the Empire State Building, which stands at 1,250 feet.

The accusations are a distortion of history, says Congress, which ruled India for much of its independence history and is now led by Rahul Gandhi, the great-grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister.

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In the largely tribal town of Dediapada, roughly 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the statue, villagers shuttered shops and closed the main market for the day in protest.

"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.

At 182 metres, the statue will measure twice the height of the Statue of Liberty and nine times that of the Angel of the North.

The Patel statue could, however, soon be topped by the 212-metre Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial commemorating a 17th-century Indian warrior king, which is set to open in Mumbai in 2021.

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