I hope this letter sheds some light on those in the Maitreya Project, and on our world Buddhist community. Please don't put so much into a piece of element. All of that effort can be put towards meditation, or some other expedient that will assist in attaining enlightenment.
Here is a very short story. This is taken from memory, and may not be exact wording, but the point is clear. There was a time Shakyamuni Buddha was presented with a statue from a lay person who was highly skilled in sculpting.
The lay person asked, " What do you think? looks just like a Buddha right?"
"No, it doesn't. It looks nothing like a Buddha.", The World Honored One said.
The World Honored One did not support images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in statues for worship. It was a distraction to cultivation then, and still is to this day, though some living beings need the expedient of worship and the like, it is only that, an expedient.
Displacing living beings just to make a statue, mainly for tourism, is a disgrace to the name Buddhism and a pure sign of ignorance towards the teachings. Its not only that the people will be displaced, but it is also that of the insects, and other life forms that the gov. and any organization in this world WILL NOT speak for.
Who is going to tell the insects and other living beings not readily visible, and not capable of speaking in a language ordinary beings can hear, that this is good for Buddhism and good for the economy...mainly...?
I am so sure that any Buddha in this world right now is smiling in pity for all those supporting a project that displaces a great number of people, and brings a great unpleasantness all with the guise of what this world thinks Buddhism to be. Displacing living beings just for a piece of metal is not proper cultivation of the Buddha Dharma. Instead, why not just post a gigantic bilboard that reads,
'Virtue, Virtue. Gotta have Virtue. Cultivate Proper Dharma. Swo Pe He'
It is less time consuming, cheaper and points directly to the reason for cultivating Buddhist practices.