India has unveiled the world’s tallest statue, a 182m (600ft) high structure in the western state of Gujarat.
The statue, which cost 29.9bn rupees (£330m; $430m) to build, is a bronze-clad tribute to independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the “statue of unity” would serve as a major tourist attraction, though locals say this is as a wastage of public money and that the funds could have been put to better use, BBC writes.
Mr Modi, who unveiled the statue at a grand inaugural event, said it is “a symbol of India’s integrity and resolve.”
Air Force planes showered flowers on the statue, which was designed by decorated Indian sculptor Ram V Sutar.
The statue has become a rallying point for local farmers who are demanding compensation for land that they say has been acquired by the government for various projects, including the construction of the memorial.
The memorial has been seen as a pet project of Mr Modi, who like Patel, was born in Gujarat. He commissioned the statue when he was the state’s chief minister in 2010.
It is nearly twice as tall as New York’s Statue of Liberty, and has surpassed the height of the Spring Temple Buddha in China which, at 128m, was previously the tallest in the world.
But it won’t remain the world’s tallest statue for long, as the government in the western state of Maharashtra is constructing a memorial to the Maratha warrior king Shivaji that is estimated to be 190m tall.
Patel was India’s first interior minister and deputy prime minister. He was known as the “Iron Man of India” after he persuaded feuding states to unite and become part of the Indian state after independence.
Officials expect that the site, located some 200km (125 miles) from Gujarat’s main city, Ahmedabad, will attract about 2.5 million annual visitors and will help boost local economy.