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Authorities in north western India have given the green light to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's project to build the world's tallest statue.

Government officials in Gujarat state have formally issued a work order for the construction of the so-called Statue of Unity, a memorial to Indian Independence hero Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, often known as the "Iron Man of India" or "Bismarck of India".

At 182m (597ft) the monument will be twice as high as New York's Statue of Liberty.

Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel said the construction will cost about £300m and take four years.

"The statue will boost tourism in the state," Patel said, The Times of India reported. "It involves construction of not just 182m-tall world's biggest statue but also an underwater fish aquarium, agriculture development and water management centre, a museum dedicated to Sardar Patel and other attractions."

The contract was awarded to Indian giant construction company Larsen and Toubro, with works expected to start on 31 October, the anniversary of Sardar Patel's birth.

A close friend to Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel played a pivotal role in India's independence from British rule and became the country's first home minister.

The massive complex dedicated to him is to be erected on Sadhu Island, a few kilometres south of Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat.

"Standing tall opposite one of the biggest dams in the world will be this monument that will, just like Sardar's spirit, surpass the rest," the Statue of Unity official website reads.

"Visitors at this statue will be able to get a panoramic view of the picturesque surroundings from a height of almost 400ft."

The decision could however spark controversy. During his lifetime Patel was criticised for alleged bias against Muslims during the time of partition.

The project was announced in 2010 by the then Gujarat Chief Minister Modi, who said the statue was to be completed within three years.

At the moment, the tallest statue in the world is the 128m-high Spring Temple Buddha in China.

Statue of Liberty Statue of Unity India world tallest statue
According to the project the memorial to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is to be twice as high as New York's Statue of Liberty. Statueofunity.in