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Three Indian Air Force planes flew past the Patel figure and created the tricolour in the sky after Modi inaugurated the giant. It also dwarfs the world's next-tallest statue, the Spring Temple Buddha in China, which is 128 meters tall. It is made up of almost 100,000 tonnes of concrete and steel.

It is hoped it will attract 15,000 visitors a day at a cost of $4.75 (€4.18), or 350 rupees, and tourists can view it from the 153-metre high observation deck which reaches the statue's chest. It was designed by Indian sculptor Ram V Sutar.

"Criticism will be around for another four to five years because of the bureaucratic mindset to look down upon any project of such a grand scale", said Madhav Nalapat, honorary director and Unesco peace chair at Manipal University.

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"The people of the country are also wondering if all this is not politics, and if the BJP really had this love for Patel why had they not put up such a massive statue earlier in Gujarat where they are in power for a long time", she said. The unveiling of the statue comes ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year.

Indian workers carry on construction works at the 'Statue Of Unity, ' a monument dedicated to Indian independence leader Vallabhbhai Patel, at Kevadiya Colony in the vicinity of Narmada Dam, Aug. 25, 2018, from Ahmedabad in Gujarat state. Police denied the claims.

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According to local media reports, at least 16 tribal leaders were detained on the eve of the inauguration. "Drones and helicopters will be keeping watch on the entire area".

Posters of Modi with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani were torn down or had their faces blackened at the weekend.

Earlier in the day, Modi said that he bow to the great Sardar Patel, the stalwart who unified India and served the nation tirelessly, on his Jayanti.

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Government said that it holds "extensive consultations" with the central bank from time to time. The RBI and the finance ministry declined to comment.

Mohan Gurumurthy of the Centre for Policy Alternatives told the Telegraph in 2013 that Sardar Patel himself would have objected to money being spent in this way.

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.

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

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