Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday claimed that the Statue of Unity in Gujarat’s Kevadiya town gets more tourists than the iconic Statue of Liberty in the United States. He made the remark while flagging off eight trains connecting various parts of the country to Kevadiya.

“More people have started visiting the Statue of Unity compared to the Statue of Liberty,” he said. “Nearly 50 lakh people have been to the Statue of Unity after its inauguration.”

However, data shows that over 40 lakh tourists visited the Statue of Liberty in 2019 alone.

The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited had made a similar claim in 2019 when it said that the daily footfall at the Statue of Unity was more than at the US monument, reported The Times of India. “With 74% increase over the daily average of the first year, that is, November 1, 2018 to October 31, 2019, daily average of 15,036 is now registered in the first month of this second year,” it had said. “This has further increased to 22,430 on weekend days. The Statue of Liberty of New York, United States, attracts around 10,000 visitors a day.”

Number of visitors (in millions) to the Statue of Liberty in the United States from 2008 to 2019. [Source: Statista]

Modi said that the train network will benefit tourists, generate employment opportunities and transform the lives of Adivasi people. He added that with increased connectivity over a lakh people will visit Kevadia daily, as per a survey.

The prime minister said that Kevadiya was an example of how both economy and ecology could be developed in a planned manner. “Some people have not yet visited Kevadiya but I am sure they will feel proud when they do,” Modi added.

Modi said that Kevadiya has transformed from being a small and remote area to becoming one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations. He added that its direct train connectivity with other cities was a proud moment for India.

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Modi said that Railways was now ensuring direct connectivity to tourist and religious places, apart from fulfilling its traditional role of transporting passengers and goods.

The Statue of Unity, built at a cost of about Rs 3,000 crore, is dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It was inaugurated by Modi in 2018 in Gujarat’s Narmada district.

It is located a few kilometres downstream from the Sardar Sarovar Dam that has displaced lakhs of people in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Kevadiya and its surrounding villages in Narmada district are a part of South Gujarat’s Adivasi belt.