AHMEDABAD: It was a ground breaking ceremony for the High Speed Rail Project but Prime Minister Narendra Thursday used the platform to sound poll bugle for Gujarat assembly elections scheduled later this year.
Modi, who was four times Gujarat chief minister before becoming Prime Minister, also listed benefits like massive job opportunities for local youths, high-speed corridors becoming a hub of growth in future, modern technology for the eradication of poverty and creation of one economic zone between Gujarat-Maharashtra.
Reaching out to youth, the prime minister said that the project will create massive job opportunities and is an act towards future proofing keeping in mind infrastructure needed for coming generations.
The ceremony was attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japan has given Rs 88,000 crore loan to India at an interest rate of 0.1 percent with repayment for over 50 years for the bullet project.
The Prime Minister used phrases like a train connecting ‘aamro Ahmedabad to aamchi Mumbai’ which were welcomed with thunderous applause and sloganeering at the Sabarmati Railway Stadium that has a seating capacity of 10,000 people.
“Country’s first bullet train coming up in Gujarat is a thing of immense happiness but I am happier that an institute for giving training in advanced technology to youths is coming up at Vadodara,” said Modi with cheers from the crowd.
The Election Commission is all set to announce assembly elections in Gujarat that are scheduled by end of this year. Apparently, the launch of the project was done in pitrapaksha, considered not an auspicious period to start new work by Hindus, keeping in mind the model code of conduct that will come into being once the election is announced.
He said that in the past civilizations had flourished along rivers and now they are flourishing along high-speed corridors.
“Our focus is on high speed productivity with high speed connectivity and productivity of a country is directly linked to economic growth. The high speeds corridors will give push to country’s economy,” he said.
On criticism that expensive technologies like bullet train are for the rich, the prime minister said that he believes technology is for all and it is beneficial if it can be used for the benefit of common people.
The prime minister said that the project’s ground breaking ceremony is done in 2017, the 70th year of India’s independence and all efforts will be made to complete it by 2022, country’s 75th year of independence.
He thanked Japanese prime minister for making all efforts to provide a loan to India at a 0.1 percent interest rate and both PMs expressed hope that they will together come for the launch of the high-speed train in 2022.
Abe, meanwhile, showered praises on his Indian counterpart for strengthening the relationship between the two countries.
PM Modi also touched upon his government’s focus to have an integrated transport system with waterways, highways, high-speed trains and aviation sector becoming engines of growth.
He also talked about benefits brought by the single tax regime, Goods and Services Tax (GST), implemented in the country.
“There is a 30 percent increase in the distance covered by trucks after implementation of GST which means they have been able to transport goods faster,” he added.