Patel saved India from balkanisation: PM Modi

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

At 597 feet, it is reportedly the tallest statue in the world, and almost twice the size of New York's Statue of Liberty. It was designed by Indian sculptor Ram V Sutar.

"The farmers of India had unparalleled faith in him... traders and industrialists preferred to work with Sardar Patel because they felt here was a stalwart who had a vision for India's economic and industrial growth", said Mr. Modi.

The construction work has taken almost four years to complete the mega project.

India has unveiled the world's tallest statue, which cost 29.9bn rupees (£330m; $430m) to build. Surpassing the workforce scale of most high-end structures around the world, at the peak of construction, 2,500 workers including several hundred Chinese labourers were working around the clock to install the 5,000 squares of bronze cladding on the façade of the statue.

"This memorial to Sardar is going to become a worldwide tourist attraction", claimed Prime Minister Modi, in a promotional video in Hindi about the statue.

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In an open letter addressed to Modi, sarpanches of 22 villages situated near the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river have said villagers will not welcome the prime minister when he arrives for the function.

Almost 100,000 tonnes of concrete and steel make up this giant Statue of Unity at a cost of $430 million (€378 million).

"Police patrolling has been intensified in the wake of protests by the local tribal community and leaders".

The Gujarat government-led celebrations gripped the State under Ekta Yatra, which spread awareness about Sardar Patel, the statue and the event being held at Kevadia on Wednesday.

However, the CPI flayed the Narendra Modi government for "splurging" almost Rs 3,000 crore on building Sardar Patel's very big statue at a time when debt-ridden farmers are "being driven to suicide" and millions of people are defecating in the open for want of sanitation facilities.

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

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

A viewing gallery has been set up at a height of 135 metres, which can accommodate 200 visitors.

The Gujarat government said the 185 families moved to make way for the statue had been compensated and given 475 hectares of new land.

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