With rose petals and guns, India's Modi inaugurates world's tallest statue

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the 182-meter-high (600-foot-high) “Statue Of Unity” on October 31. (AFP)
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India inaugurated the world's tallest statue on Wednesday with fireworks, folk dances and floral tributes, deploying tight security amid an outcry by local groups over the soaring cost of the 182-metre (600-feet) sculpture of an independence hero. (AFP)
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India inaugurated the world's tallest statue on Wednesday with fireworks, folk dances and floral tributes, deploying tight security amid an outcry by local groups over the soaring cost of the 182-metre (600-feet) sculpture of an independence hero
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India inaugurated the world's tallest statue on Wednesday with fireworks, folk dances and floral tributes, deploying tight security amid an outcry by local groups over the soaring cost of the 182-metre (600-feet) sculpture of an independence hero
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India inaugurated the world's tallest statue on Wednesday with fireworks, folk dances and floral tributes, deploying tight security amid an outcry by local groups over the soaring cost of the 182-metre (600-feet) sculpture of an independence hero. (AFP)
Updated 31 October 2018
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With rose petals and guns, India's Modi inaugurates world's tallest statue

  • Activists said about a dozen of their leaders had been detained ahead of the spectacular opening of the 182-meter (600-foot) tall
  • Indian authorities hope the statue will attract 15,000 visitors a day to the remote corner of Gujarat

SARDAR SAROVAR DAM, India: India inaugurated the world's tallest statue on Wednesday with fireworks, folk dances and floral tributes, deploying tight security amid an outcry by local groups over the soaring cost of the 182-metre (600-feet) sculpture of an independence hero.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially opened the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel describing the completion of his pet project as "a day that will be remembered in the history of India".
Air force jets flew over the giant figure and clouds of rose petals were dropped from helicopters onto its head as Modi bent in front of the statue on the ground.
Modi hailed Sardar Patel's "strategic thinking" in bringing together the disparate country after independence in 1947 and described the Statue of Unity as "a symbol of our engineering and technical prowess".
More than 5,000 armed police guarded the huge site in a remote corner of Gujarat state, with Anand Mazgaonkar, a community group leader in Narmada district, accusing plain clothes officers of detaining 12 people late Tuesday. Police denied the claims.

AFP

But the authorities took no chances in case community groups staged protests to condemn the decision to spend 29.9 billion rupees ($400 million) -- much of it public funds -- to build the statue over a nearly four-year period. Hundreds of Chinese have been among the 3,500 workers involved in its construction.
Drones and helicopters kept watch on the area, according to police, after the chiefs of 22 villages signed a letter calling on Modi to stay away from the inauguration.
Posters of Modi with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani were torn down or had their faces blackened at the weekend. Police guarded new posters put in their place.
Local legislator Chotu Vasava said: "Tribal groups have been exploited by different governments, the ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is repeating it again."
"I am not against Sardar, but what is the use of the statue if the people on the land have to suffer and are moved from their homes?"
The Gujarat government said the 185 families moved to make way for the statue had been compensated and given 1,200 acres (475 hectares) of land.
More than 80 percent of the local population are from tribal groups with special protected status.

AFP

In the largely tribal town of Dediapada, roughly 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the statue, villagers shuttered shops and closed the main market for the day in protest.
"We are still facing problems of water, health infrastructure and employment," one resident, Vikram Vasava, told a local broadcaster.
"How will the statue help us?"
Sardar Patel was a deputy prime minister in India's first post-independence government. He became known as "the Iron Man" by convincing feuding states -- sometimes with a threat of force -- to join the new united country.
His name had been largely overshadowed by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has dominated Indian politics since 1947. But Modi-inspired nationalists have sought to put him back in the forefront, with critics accusing them of appropriating his legacy.
The statue is more than twice the size of New York's Statue of Liberty and also dwarfs the 128-metre (400-feet) high Spring Temple Buddha in China, the world's next-biggest statue. It is made up of nearly 100,000 tonnes of concrete and steel.
Online booking to visit the Statue of Unity has opened with a 350 rupee ($4.75) admission fee for the 153-metre-high observation deck.
Indian authorities hope the statue will attract 15,000 visitors a day.
India is also working on a giant statue of 17th-century warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji, riding a horse and brandishing a sword, which should dominate the Mumbai shoreline from 2021. The current design would make it 212 metres high.


Sixteen states sue Trump over border wall emergency

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, said California will probably sue President Donald Trump over his emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP)
Updated 19 February 2019
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Sixteen states sue Trump over border wall emergency

  • The complaint added that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico

SAN FRANCISCO: Sixteen US states sued President Donald Trump’s administration Monday over his decision to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the southern border with Mexico, saying the move violated the constitution.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in California, said the president’s order was contrary to the Presentment Clause that outlines legislative procedures and the Appropriations Clause, which defines Congress as the final arbiter of public funds.
The move had been previously announced by Xavier Becerra the attorney general of California who said his state and others had legal standing because they risked losing moneys intended for military projects, disaster assistance and other purposes.
Several Republican senators have decried the emergency declaration, saying it establishes a dangerous precedent and amounts to executive overreach.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia are party to the complaint seeking an injunction.
“Use of those additional federal funds for the construction of a border wall is contrary to Congress’s intent in violation of the US Constitution, including the Presentment Clause and Appropriations Clause,” the complaint said.
It added that Trump had “veered the country toward a constitutional crisis of his own making.”
“Congress has repeatedly rebuffed the president’s insistence to fund a border wall, recently resulting in a record 35-day partial government shutdown over the border wall dispute,” the document read.
“After the government reopened, Congress approved, and the president signed into law, a $1.375 billion appropriation for fencing along the southern border, but Congress made clear that funding could not be used to build President Trump’s proposed border wall.”
The complaint added that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico.
Friday’s declaration enables the president to divert funds from the Pentagon’s military construction budget and other sources.