Visiting poll-bound Maharashtra for a second time in less than a week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today gifted the state a clutch of infrastructure projects including a metro for Nagpur as he reaffirmed his government’s commitment to development and rooting out graft.
Just a day after the Union Cabinet cleared a Rs 8,860 crore metro project for Nagpur, state’s second after Mumbai, Modi laid its foundation in senior BJP leader and Union Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari’s constituency.
Apart from laying the foundation stone for Pardi flyover in Nagpur city, he also dedicated to the nation the 1000 MW Mouda Super Thermal Power Project Stage-1 in pre-election bonanza to the state where BJP-led NDA is seeking to unseat the Congress-NCP government after 15 years.
Though Modi largely avoided making a political speech, the shadow of the upcoming elections appeared to loom large on the events that were boycotted by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan after he was booed at a function in Solapur last Saturday in the presence of Modi, who had then come to inaugurate a national highway project.
Chavan, who had to stop his speech midway amid chants of “Modi! Modi!” by alleged BJP supporters, had yesterday said he would skip today’s Nagpur events as “the federal structure of the country has been undermined at the programmes in Congress-ruled states where the PM was present recently.”
Modi had on Saturday also laid the foundation of Rs 4000 crore multi-product Special Economic Zone project spread over 277 hectares at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust near Mumbai that would provide employment to 1.5 lakh people.
While Modi made no mention of Chavan in his speech, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu lamented it, saying he would have been happy if he were present and stressed upon the need for the Centre and state governments to work in tandem as “Team India”.
The 38.215-km-long Nagpur metro project, scheduled to be completed by March 2018, will be funded on equal sharing basis between the state and the Centre with the latter contributing Rs 1,555 crore as equity and subordinate debt.
In his speeches, both at Mauda and Nagpur, Modi attacked corruption terming it a “disease and sin” and launched a veiled attack on the Congress without naming it.
“Corruption has destroyed the country… For some, it has become a way of life. This disease has to be banished, we have to get rid of this sin,” he said, adding now some political parties were worried because of our attempt to stamp out corruption.
“If I have to choose between the people and political parties, I will choose to keep people happy,” he said.
Modi said providing electricity to everyone across the country was the topmost priority of his government.
“For any country to progress, priority has to be given to infrastructure. If we can deliver durable infrastructure, possibilities of development increase. Among all kinds of infrastructure, power is the most important as it is critical to bringing about a change in the quality of life of the people,” he said.
Resolving to provide “power to all”, Modi referred to the stress he had laid on hydropower during his recent visits to Bhutan and Nepal as also Jammu and Kashmir.
Recalling the plight of debt-ridden farmers in Vidarbha, who were forced to commit suicide, Modi asked the farming community to avail of the benefits of Pradhan Mantri Jandhan Yojana that will be launched on August 28.
The scheme, which would include a bank account, a debit card, and an insurance amount of Rs one lakh, would help provide some “guarantee of security” to the farmers and help them avoid the debt trap laid by money lenders, he said.
Modi outlined a vision for solid waste management and waste water management in 500 urban centres across India, through the PPP model. He said this would enable cleanliness in towns and cities, while facilitating ample water supply for agriculture to the nearby rural hinterland.
The Prime Minister said India was urbanising rapidly, and he sees it not as a challenge but as an opportunity for economic development.