India unveils world's tallest statue amid criticism

India unveils world's tallest statue amid criticism

India unveils world's tallest statue amid criticism

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

He is to pay tribute at the foot of the statue of Sardar Patel, who has become a hero for nationalists.

The statue is forged from approximately 1,850 metric tons of bronze and stands at 182 metres height near the Narmada River in the western Indian state of Gujrat. "We are made to feel as if we have committed a serious crime", he said.

Modi also linked Infantry Day - observed in commemoration of the first victorious military action led by the Infantry in Jammu and Kashmir after Independence to drive out Pakistani invaders - to Patel.

"Development of the poorest of the poor is the real indicator of peace", Modi said, adding that wherever there will be a talk of world peace, India's name and contribution will be written in golden letters.

After its grand inauguration on 31 October, the statue will be open for public visit from 3 November from 9am-6pm. The unveiling of the statue comes ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year.

Modi was accompanied by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. Selfie Points in 5-km radius around the Statue is also constructured.

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Patel was known as the "Iron Man of India" for integrating various states in the post-independence era.

That makes the mega statue nearly 200 feet higher than the world's next largest, the Spring Temple Buddha in China, which stands at about 420 feet.

The statue is more than twice the size of New York's Statue of Liberty and also dwarfs the 128 metre high Spring Temple Buddha in China, the world's next-biggest statue. It was dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the time he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

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 project is facing opposition from local villagers in the region and from rival political parties.

The headmen of 22 villages wrote to the PM saying they wouldn't welcome him at the ceremony. They claim that the project has destroyed natural resources and that families that had to be relocated from the site of the statue haven't been compensated.

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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