Government

Modi Inaugurates Slew of New Projects in Poll-Bound Gujarat, Says ‘Economy on Right Track’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the previous UPA government of using the environment plea to halt development along the Gujarat coastline.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with the children during his maiden voyage on the Ghogha-Dahej Ro-Ro ferry service in Bhavnagar, Gujarat on Sunday. Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with the children during his maiden voyage on the Ghogha-Dahej ro-ro ferry service in Bhavnagar, Gujarat on Sunday. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated and laid foundation stones for a host of projects worth more than Rs 1,600 in poll-bound Gujarat.

Declaring that the Indian economy was on the right track, Modi vowed to continue to walk the path of economic reforms. He defended his government’s major and controversial financial policies such as demonetisation launched last year and the goods and services tax this year reported the Hindustan Times. Both policies had come in for criticism from several quarters.

Besides the much publicised ferry service between Ghogha and Dahej, the other Gujarat projects on Modi’s anvil ranged from a city command and control centre to a transport hub. Vadodara municipal commissioner Vinod Rao has said that Modi will dedicate to the people a Rs 100 crore city command and control centre in Badamadi Garden, a Rs 125 crore Janmahal city transport hub and a multi-level parking lot, a Rs 160 crore multi-modal city transport hub and a Rs 267 crore waste-to-energy processing plant, PTI reported. In Vadodara, Modi laid the foundation stone of several development projects pertaining to transport, housing and water supply.

Interestingly, while flagging off what is now being perceived in many quarters as part of pre-election sops in Gujarat, Modi maintained that all was well with the Indian economy. “After all the reforms and hardcore decisions, the economy of the country is on track and is going in the right direction,” he said.

His assertions could be construed a rejoinder to his critics within and outside his party – opposition party leaders as well as senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who have expressed concern about the state of the economy. Sinha has recently gone all out to criticise the way the Modi government is handling the economy. Significantly, Modi’s optimistic comments about the economy come on the back of revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia saying that some rejig in GST rate structure was required to reduce the taxation burden on small and medium businesses.

The prime minister’s announcements need to be seen in the context of the Election Commission’s controversial decision earlier this month, de-linking the announcement of poll dates in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The opposition has accused the government of persuading the Election Commission to delay declaring the poll schedule for Gujarat so that the ruling BJP could does out pre-poll projects in the state.

At Ghogha in Bhavnagar, Modi launched the first phase of the Rs 615 crore ‘roll-on-roll-off’ (ro-ro) ferry service between Ghogha and Dahej. The ferry service will reduce the distance between the two towns from 310 kilometres by road to 30 kilometres.

“This is the first of its kind project not only in India but also in South-East Asia,” Modi said on the occasion, accompanied by Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and deputy chief minister Nitin Patel.

“This is also a unique project as the state government has used the latest technology to make this ferry service possible,” he added.

He accused the previous UPA government of trying to halt development along the state’s coastline leveraging environment concerns as an excuse.

The prime minister advocated blending economy with ecology. He said the fundamentals of the economy are strong and “financial stability of the country will be maintained while initiating reforms”, reported the Hindustan Times.

According to a report in NDTV, after taking a ride in the ferry to Dahej, Modi said, “Without proper connectivity, the economic development of a nation slows down. Keeping this in mind we are focussing on ports infrastructure. Our focus is on the blue economy. We see the blue economy as integral to our vision of a new India. Our vision is ports for prosperity. India needs better ports and more ports”.

According to the NDTV report, Modi addressed the gathering by saying that the scale of development works being inaugurated in Vadodara was unprecedented. “We are clear in our working. All our resources will be spent towards the wellbeing of every citizen. Our priority is development,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being welcomed on stage at the public meeting in Ghogha in Gujarat on Sunday. Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being welcomed on stage at the public meeting in Ghogha in Gujarat on Sunday. Credit: PTI

Defending the projects and taking a dig at his critics, the prime minister said, “Can’t I come to Vadodara after Diwali? Some people don’t like to see me coming here. As they can’t directly tell me anything, they are targeting the Election Commission,” the Hindustan Times reported.

(With inputs from PTI)