Work begins on India’s controversial Statue of Unity

Work on the soon-to-be largest statue in the world has begun in India. 

Announced in 2013, the Statue of Unity is being built on Sadhu Island, in the western state of Gujarat. The semblance of India’s first deputy prime minister, political and social leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, will stand at 182 metres tall – almost twice the height of the Statue of Liberty. 

Images of the early stages of construction show the statue’s pedestal and base being laid as well as the installation of the central support pillars made from tons of cement and recycled iron. The structure is due to be completed in October this year. 

Costing £226.9 million($A414m) to build, the statue has been subject to much controversy. The cost of the memorial and alleged political motives behind it brought strong criticism from leading commentators.

The Statue of Unity website has defended its project, claiming: “As a memorial to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the statue will not only remind every individual of our great nation’s freedom struggle but will also inspire the people of our country to inculcate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s visionary ideologies of unity, patriotism, inclusive growth and good governance… a fully functional, purpose-serving tribute that will spur all round socio-economic development.”

The statue will be set on a river island close to the Narmada Dam and connected by a bridge to an amusement park, 3-star hotel and garden in Sardar Patel’s honour. 

It is hoped the Statue of Unity will help bring revenue from tourism to the area, with a viewing gallery planned 150 metres of the way up the structure, offering panoramic views of the dam and surrounding landscape.

How to Statue of Unity compares to the world’s iconic statues

7. Angel of the North, UK: 20 metres

6. Christ the Reedeemer, Brazil: 38 metres

5. The Motherland Calls, Russia: 85 metres

4. Statue of Liberty, USA: 93 metres

3. Spring Temple Buddha, China: 120 metres

2. Ushiku Daibutsu, Japan: 120 metres

1. Statue of Unity, India: 182 metres

The Telegraph, London

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