MeraNews Network, Narmada: On the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first home minister of independent India, also known as the Iron Man of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated and dedicated to the nation, the Statue of Unity, a 182 metre (597 ft) tall iron statue of Patel at Kevadiya Colony in Narmada district of Gujarat.

Speaking on the occasion, Modi said, “I had the thought of paying a tribute fitting to the stature of Sardar during my time as the chief minister of Gujarat, but had never imagined that I would get the opportunity to do so as the PM of the country.”

He further added, “I wanted to carve out a massive statue out of a whole mountain, but couldn’t find a single one that could be strong and massive enough fit for the purpose. Thus came the idea to immortalize Sardar in iron and bronze”

The statue, designed by prominent Indian sculptor Ram V Sutar is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in New York, United States, and is officially the tallest statue in the world. It is built on Sadhu Bet, a river island facing the Narmada Dam.

At the inauguration, Modi first did and ‘abhishek’ of the statue with waters from 30 rivers of the country amidst chanting of Vedic hymns and shlokas. He also inaugurated the Tent City and the Valley of Flowers, a tourist attraction near the statue. He further announced a project to build a virtual museum depicting the contributions of more than 500 royals and rulers of Gujarat, who had come together in the accession to India after independence under the guidance of Sardar Patel.

The Statue of Unity was met with stiff opposition by locals, who claimed that their land was usurped by the government for the construction, while Modi in his speech today claimed that this statue as a thriving tourist spot will provide ample opportunity of employment and development opportunities to the tribals in the area. Environmentalists had also raised concerns regarding the construction of the statue, without taking the requisite environment clearances.

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