A DAY BEFORE Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the city, some roads were blocked, parking of vehicles was prohibited. Rajkot Municipal Corporation announced on Wednesday that city bus services would remain suspended on Thursday. “The city bus service will remain suspended due to security reasons during the PM’s visit. We can’t elaborate on the security reasons. But the public transport service will remain suspended for a few hours,” said municipal commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani.
The PM is slated to visit Rajot on Thursday evening for distributing aid among 18000 Divyangs or differently abled and inaugurate first phase of third link of Saurashtra Narmada Avataran Irrigation Yojana (SAUNI) by formally welcoming Narmada water into Aji dam. He is also scheduled to take out a nine-kilometre-long road show from Aji dam to Rajkot airport.
In view of Modi’s visit, the city has been virtually turned into a fortress. Around 8,000 policemen will be on duty during the day. Out of them, 6,000 will be deployed at Race Course, the venue of aid distribution event, Aji dam and along the road show route. The remaining 2000 will be deployed in other parts of the city to control traffic and maintain order at the time of VVIP movement, Rajkot city police commissioner Anupam Singh Gehlot said. “Due to the PM’s visit, we have prohibited parking on either side of the roads on which his convoy will pass. Simiarly, some roads have been declared one-way due to VVIP movement,” Gehlot said.
The approach of Jam Tower road to Kasturba road was blocked on Wednesday. Similarly, the approach of ITI, Rajkot on Bhavnagar road was also blocked. “We have set up barricades along the road show route due to security reasons. We have tried not cause much inconvenience to general public and as soon as the road show gets over and VVIPs move out, the barricades will be removed,” the police commissioner added.
The police commissioner claimed they had not asked for complete shut down of public transport. “The convoy of the Prime Minister is to pass on part of BRTS (bus rapid transit system) corridor. Therefore, we had requested the RMC to suspend services on BRTS corridor only. We have not instructed suspension of public transport service in general in the city,” Gehlot said.
However, official sources in the RMC confirmed to The Indian Express that city buses had been engaged for ferrying studentsto Aji dam where the PM would launch website and mobile application of Smart City Rajkot Hackathon, 2017. The hackathon will be organised on July 29 for finding information technology-based solutions to issues facing the city. The PM is also scheduled to dedicate to public an express feeder line between Aji water treatment plant to Nyari reservoir and also inaugurate the remodeled Nyari dam.
The Rajkot Mass Trasport Service has 90 buses and operates 45 routes. Similarly, 10 buses ply on the BRTS corridor. The city bus service ferry more than 40,000 passengers per day.
The RMC has been irganising cultural programmes and other events for the last one week to celebrate the arrival of Narmada water in Aji-I dam. The municipal commissioner said that the civic body is likely to spend around Rs1 crore for the events. On the other hand, the state irrigation department has allotted a budget of Rs12 crore for inauguration of link-III pipeline of SAUNI. The aid distribution among Divyangs has been organised by Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in collaboration with Gujarat government.