India unveils world's tallest statue amid criticism

India unveils world's tallest statue amid criticism

India unveils world's tallest statue amid criticism

Prime Minister Narendra Modi insists that the statue will serve as a major tourist attraction, adding that the statue is "a symbol of India's integrity and resolve". Police denied the claims.

He further said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had thought about the project long back when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. He had promised to deliver the project, despite criticism that India couldn't afford to spend so much money on such an indulgence.

Funds for the statue came from the federal government, state-run companies and other institutions, and it was built in 33 months by construction and engineering company Larsen & Toubro Ltd.

"Though Patel was from Gujarat state, all Indians were proud of him because of his stature", said Rashesh Patel, a 42-year-old businessman among the crowd gathered for the inauguration ceremony.

Blaming the BJP-led governments in Assam and at the centre for leaving out the names of 40 lakh people from the complete draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), she alleged that the saffron party was practising a similar "politics of discrimination" in different parts of the country.

More than 80 percent of the local population are from tribal groups with special protected status.

Locals in the Narmada district of Gujarat state, where the statue is located, threatened to protest the statue's unveiling. Patel also served as the country's first home minister after British colonial rule ended in 1947.

Gandhi said Patel was a patriot, who fought for a independent, united and secular India. At 597 feet, the statue, built at a cost of $430 million, is the tallest in the world, nearly twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty, the BBC reports.

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. It is made up of almost 100,000 tonnes of concrete and steel.

Indian authorities hope the statue will attract 15,000 visitors a day to the remote corner of Gujarat, which is about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the nearest city of Vadodora. The current design would make it 212 metres high.

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