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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Indian policemen gather next to the Statue of Unity at Kevadiya colony in Gujarat state, India. AP Photo

World's tallest statue in tribute to Sardar Vallabbhai Patel unveiled in India

India's prime minister on Wednesday unveiled a towering bronze statue of Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, a key independence leader and the country's first home minister after British colonialists left in 1947.

At 182 metres high, it is the tallest statue in the world and was built at an estimated cost of around $420 million.

The edifice is situated in Gujarat state, where both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Patel hail from.

Mr Modi inaugurated the "Statue of Unity" on the bank of the Narmada river in Kevadiya. He had promised to deliver the project, despite criticism that India couldn't afford to spend so much money on such an indulgence.

Indian air force planes showered flower petals on the statue during its unveiling.

Patel was known as the "Iron Man of India" for integrating various states in the post-independence era as the creation of Pakistan led to massive bloodshed between Hindus and Muslims moving between the two nations.

On Wednesday, Mr Modi said Patel was a beacon of hope for India in the time of crisis and he will be a source of inspiration for ages to come.

The monument will have a museum with 40,000 documents, 2,000 photographs and a research centre dedicated to Patel's life and work.

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