Modi performs "bhoomi-poojan" of Ahmedabad Metro Rail Project Phase-II and Surat Metro Rail
New Delhi, January 18, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed the "bhoomi poojan" of the Ahmedabad Metro Rail Project Phase-II and the Surat Metro Rail Project today saying the transformation of Surat and Gandhinagar over the last two decades showed how a planned approach to urbanisation could benefit people, especially the youth.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat, State Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Union Housing & Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri were present on the occasion in which the Prime Minister participated through video conferencing.
Modi congratulated Ahmedabad and Surat for the gift of Metro as the service would improve connectivity in the two important business centres of the country.
“Today work has started on infrastructure projects worth Rs 17,000 crore. This shows that even during the coronavirus pandemic period, efforts for infrastructure building are gaining momentum. In recent days, infrastructure projects worth thousands of crores were either dedicated to nation or work started on new projects,” he added.
Terming Ahmedabad and Surat as cities contributing to "Aatamnirbharta" (self-reliance), the Prime Minister recollected the excitement when the metro was launched in Ahmedabad and how the city had linked its dreams and identity with the project.
The second phase of the metro will benefit the people as it will link new areas of the city with this comfortable mode of transport. Similarly, Surat will also experience better connectivity. These projects are envisaged keeping in mind the requirement of the future, he added.
The Prime Minister pointed out the difference in approach between the previous governments and the current one taking reference of metro expansion. He said, as compared to 200 km of metro line laid in the 10-12 years before 2014, 400 km of metro lines had been operationalized in the last six years alone. The Government was working on 1,000 km of new lines in 27 cities, he said.
In the absence of integrated modern thinking earlier, there was no national policy for the metro. As a result, there was no uniformity in technique and systems of metro in different cities. There was the absence of linkage with the rest of the transport system of the city. Today, transportation is being developed as an integrated system in these cities, in which metro will function not in isolation but work as a collective system. This integration will be taken further by the recently launched National Common Mobility card, he said.
Taking the example of Surat and Gandhinagar, the Prime Minister also dwelt on the thinking of the government on urbanization which was pro-active, keeping the needs of future in mind. Only two decades ago, Surat was mentioned for a plague epidemic rather than development.
The Government promoted its spirit of entrepreneurial inclusion and today, Surat is not only the 8th largest city of the country -- population-wise -- but also the 4th fastest growing city of the world. Nine out every 10 diamonds are cut and polished in Surat. Similarly, 40% of the man-made fabric in the country is made in Surat and about 30% man-made fibre is being produced there. Surat today is the second cleanest city of the country.
The Prime Minister also spoke about efforts in housing for poor, traffic management, roads and bridges, sewage treatment and hospitals for enhancing the ease of living in the city.
"This became possible by better planning and holistic thinking and Surat has turned out to be a great example of ‘Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat’ as it is home to entrepreneurs and labourers from all parts of the country," he said.
Similarly, the Prime Minister talked about the journey of Gandhinagar, which transformed a city of government employees and retirees to a young vibrant city. Today, Gandhinagar is identified by renowned institutes like IIT, National Law University, NIFT, National Forensic Science University, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, Indian Institute of Teacher Education, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology, National Institute of Design (NID), Raksha Shakti University, and so on.
"These institutions have not only transformed the education landscape of the city but also brought companies to the campuses, increasing the employment avenues in the city. Similarly, Mahatama Mandir has given a push to conference-tourism. Projects like the modern railway station. Gift City, Sabarmati River Front, Kankariya Lake Front, water aerodrome, bus rapid transit system, the world’s largest stadium in Motera and six-lane Gandhinagar Highway have become Ahmedabad’s identity. The city is getting a modern makeover without sacrificing its old character," he added.
"Ahmedabad has been declared ‘World Heritage City’ and is getting a new airport in Dholera. The airport will get connected with the city by an already-approved monorail. Work is under progress on the Bullet Train connecting Ahmedabad and Surat to the financial capital of the country, Mumbai," he said.
Referring to rural development, Modi termed the improvement brought in roads, electricity, water situation in Gujarat over the last two decades as an important chapter in the journey of Gujarat’s development.
"Today, every village of Gujarat is connected with all-weather roads. Tribal villages too have better roads. Today, 80% of households in Gujarat have piped water. Around 10 lakh water connections have been provided in the state under Jal Jeevan Mission. Soon, every household will have water on tap.
"Similarly, irrigation has seen new momentum as Sardar Sarovar Sauni Yojna and water grid network has taken irrigation water to dry areas. Narmada water has reached Kutch. Work has been done in micro-irrigation. Electricity is another success story and Gujarat is the leading state in solar power. Recently, work was started on the world’s largest solar plant in Kutch. Gujarat is the first state in the country to give separate electricity for irrigation under Sarvodya Yojana," he said.
The Prime Minister also enumerated steps in the health sector such as Ayushman Bharat Scheme which has benefited 21 lakh people in the state. More than 500 Jan Aushadh Kendras are saving about 100 crores for local patients. More than 2.5 lakh houses were built under PM Awas-Gramin. More than 35 lakh toilets were built in the state under the Swachch Bharat Mission.
He said the government was taking bold decisions and implementing them with speed. India was not only doing big but also, better. He cited as examples of this thinking, the world’s tallest statue, largest affordable housing programme, healthcare assurance programme, Internet connectivity in 6 lakh villages and the recently launched world’s largest vaccination campaign.
"The Ro-pax ferry services between Hazira and Ghogha and the Girnar Ropeway, through swift implementation, changed the lives of the local people. These schemes have saved fuel and time as distance between Ghongha and Hazira got reduced from 375 km to 90 km by ferry. The service has been patronised by 50,000 people in two months and 14,000 vehicles were also ferried on the service. This has helped farmers and animal husbandry in the region. Similarly, Girnar Ropeway has been used by more than 2 lakh people in two and a half months," he said.
"The goal of new India can only be achieved by working rapidly with an understanding of people’s needs and aspirations," he said.
PRAGATI system was a step in this direction. It has brought new momentum in the implementation culture of the country as it was chaired by the Prime Minister himself.
“The effort is to talk directly with the stakeholders and find solutions for the problems. In the last five years we have reviewed projects worth Rs 13 lakh crore,” he added.
“With the completion of long-pending schemes, cities like Surat got new energy. Our industry, especially the small-scale industry and MSME received the assurance that they have the support of good infrastructure when they compete globally. Under Aatmnirbhar Bharat Campaign, many steps have been taken to help these small industries as they have been provided easy loans worth thousands of crores to tide over the difficult times.
“They are being given great opportunities by steps like the redefinition of MSME that has helped with the fear of expansion, as traders were scared of losing benefits if they grew bigger than the defined limit. The Government has removed these restrictions and opened new avenues for them. Similarly, this redefinition has removed the distinction between manufacturing and service enterprise, creating new possibilities for the service sector.
“They are also being given preference in government procurement. The Government is committed to providing opportunities to small industries to flourish and the labourers working in these units should have better amenities and a better life,” he added.