Making it clear that his government’s emphasis and attention would be on urban development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday unveiled a grand plan for a public-private partnership model to clean up 500 select cities and towns, treat their waste water and manufacture fertiliser from their solid waste to be supplied to adjoining villages for organic farming. This, he said, would create a win-win situation of cleanliness and better health conditions for all and enhanced agricultural output.
Addressing a gathering here after laying the foundation stones for the Nagpur Metro rail project and a 10-lane flyover-cum-underbridge in Pardi locality of the city, Modi said: “India is getting urbanised very fast. Till now, we thought of urbanisation as a problem. But I see it as an opportunity for economic growth. If we had planned accordingly 20-25 years ago, today our urban centres wouldn’t be found crumbling. Even a farmer wants his sons to work in cities. That’s why we have planned to build 100 smart cities, better built as soon as possible.”
He stressed skill development programmes for urban youth who have to discontinue studies due to poverty. “In villages, they take care of their poor but in cities people don’t even know who stays next door. So, we need to train the youths there in skills,” Modi said.
Cheered throughout by supporters, Modi said: “Clean rapid transport system is needed to take care of the environmental concerns. Nagpur has to become the economic growth centre for the Vidarbha region and hence the Metro project is being unveiled here.”
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s cleanliness philosophy yet again, Modi called for cleaning up cities and spoke about the PPP model for 300 cities and towns. Prior to the Nagpur programme, Modi visited Mouda, a tahsil town 35 km away, to dedicate to the nation two units of an NTPC project. He also addressed a well-attended rally there.
While Modi refrained from talking about the boycott of the two events by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said: “The CM couldn’t come for some reasons. It would have been good had he come. We have to achieve the nation’s development together as both state and Centre. We believe in strong federalism.”
Naidu, however, quoted old estimate of the Nagpur Metro project cost, which has gone up from Rs 8,680 to Rs 10,326 crore. “It will be completed by 2018,” he said.
Union Minister for Surface Transport and Nagpur MP Nitin Gadkari, who was instrumental in bringing the Metro project to the city, described Modi as a “tiger”.
“Prime Minister Modi has a vision for development and I promise him that my ministry will contribute two per cent to the national GDP in the years to come,” he said.
Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan, Minister for Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal and Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde were also present.
Along with CM Chavan, Guardian Minister Nitin Raut too gave the programme a miss. Modi was welcomed by Social Justice Minister and Yavatmal Guardian Minister Shivajirao Moghe.