Sardar Sarovar Dam (India) – India was inaugurating Wednesday under high security, for fear of demonstrations by local communities, the highest statue in the world located in the state of Gujarat (west), land of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Indian authorities have planned a spectacular inauguration ceremony for the 182-meter high statue – including 25 pedestal – of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the country's independence figures and modeled by Hindu nationalists, in the presence of the head of government.
As big as twice the New York Statue of Liberty – pedestals included -, the "statue of Unity"represents the prime minister of the Indian interior dressed in a traditional dhoti and shawl on his shoulders.
The building, which cost 29.9 billion rupees (358 million euros), however faces a slump of local tribal communities. They denounce the expensive nature and the impact on the environment and threatened to disrupt the inauguration by demonstrations.
As a result, the Indian authorities did not skimp on the means to guarantee the smooth running of the ceremonies.
"More than 5,000 police officers were deployed at various locations within 10 kilometers of the statue site"Abhay Chudasama, a senior police officer in the area, told the press.
"Police patrols have been intensified as a result of protests by leaders and the local tribal community. Drones and helicopters will keep an eye on the whole area", he added.
From a concrete and steel structure, and bronze cladding made in China, the statue will dominate the Narmada River and is located near a dam in a remote area. Heavy of nearly 100,000 tons, it required four years of work.
In the grip of an access of nationalism and gigantism, India, in the hands of the Hindu nationalists, has embarked on two projects of titanic statues. Besides the "statue of Unity"Another structure planned for 2021 in Bombay Bay will commemorate Hindu warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji.
The size of these statues and the choice of characters they represent – two historical figures celebrated by Hindu nationalists – are not trivial, while India enters the election campaign in view of the legislative elections next year.
Narendra Modi felt that Patel's statue, "Iron man"who negotiated the rallying of princely states to the young nation, will attract"hordes"tourists.
Its detractors, however, point to the isolation of the place – the nearest big city, Vadodara, is 100 kilometers away – the absence of trains and hotels in this remote region.