PM Modi to dedicate to nation world's tallest statue, Statue of Unity

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- Foundation stone was laid in October 2013 by then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, now Prime Minister.

"His statue is a symbol of India's integrity", Modi said, peppered with potshots at his critics and copious references to other pet projects such as his goods and services tax and health care initiatives. The Statue of Unity, which is twice the size of the Statue of Liberty, has been built in a remote corner of Gujarat as a flagship project of Modi, who is to open it tomorrow.

Jiangxi Tongqing Metal Handicrafts, a foundry in southeastern China, was tasked with the bronze panelling of Patel's statue.

"Patel, a titan of India's freedom struggle, unified the country and stopped it from disintegration". PM Modi also appealed for people to participate in the "Run for Unity" organised on October 31 to mark Patel's birth anniversary.

Modi would also inaugurate the "Wall of Unity" (a monument defining India's unity) near the statue. At the same time, a team of Jaguar fighter aircraft will fly over the statue and a team of MI-17 choppers will shower rose petals. The statue is made out of 22,500 million tonnes of cement.

India is also working on a giant statue of 17th-century warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji, riding a horse and brandishing a sword, which should dominate the Mumbai shoreline from 2021.

Online booking to visit the Statue of Unity has opened with a 350 rupee ($4.75) admission fee for the 153-metre-high observation deck.

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Ram V. Sutar, a renowned sculptor from Noida, was the architect while Larsen & Toubro designed and executed the project using a team of over 3,000 workers and 250 engineers at a cost of Rs. 2,389 crore.

"More than 5,000 police personnel have been deployed at various points in the 10km radius of the statue site", said the Narmada district police inspector general, Abhay Chudasama.

Nehru's great-grandson, Rahul Gandhi, leads the Congress Party, and if a unified opposition wins a majority of seats in parliamentary elections due next spring, he could be a candidate for India's next prime minister.

The Gujarat government - a BJP administration - expects the statue to boost tourism, with one estimate putting daily numbers at 15,000.

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.

Some political commentators have criticised Modi for his expenditure on the statue complex at a time when the adivasi indigenous people who farm the land acquired for it are in economic straits and have protested against it.

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