PM Unveils Sardar Patel's 2900-Crore Statue Of Unity

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The statue of Vallabhbhai "Sardar" Patel, one of the heroes of India's independence movement, will stand 188m (597ft) tall in Mr Modi's home state of Gujarat and has been dubbed the "Statue of Unity". Total 250 engineers and 3,700 workers were engaged in the construction.

While stressing on the need to work "unitedly" to address issues like terrorism, climate change, economic development and social justice, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that peace does not only mean "no war". Reports said that PM Modi will be welcomed by the bands of the Armed Forces, Gujarat Police, SRP, CRPF and BSF, and cultural troupes from 29 States and two Union Territories. "Is remembering country's great personalities a crime?" he asked.

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. He has converted India's diversity into its biggest strength.

BJP chief Amit Shah, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel and Madhya Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel were also present on the occasion.

The BJP strongly believes that Sardar Patel was responsible for uniting India and making what it is today. "No Indian will ever forget this day". Modi thanked the sculptors and architects who worked on the statue.

Mr Modi, whose nationalist government has made the statue one of its flagship projects ahead of a national election next year, arrived in Gujarat's main city of Ahmedabad on Tuesday night. 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). Below the statue will be a three-storey visitors' centre housing a museum, an audio visual gallery, and a laser and sound show-all designed around the theme of unification of India. The current tallest statue in the world-the 502ft high Spring Buddha Temple in China-will be eclipsed by the 597 ft.

The statue occupies over 20,000 square meters and is surrounded by a 12 square km artificial lake.

The Gujarat government is reported to have paid more than half of the funds for the statue, while the remainder came from the federal government or public donations.

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

The chiefs of 22 local villages signed a letter calling on Modi to stay away from the inauguration.