Taking a dig at the Congress-led UPA regime for scams, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the policy changes initiated by his government have led to India becoming the world’s fastest growing country.
“During the months of February, March and April (2014) the only news that came were scams.. coal scam, submarine scam, scams on the air, water and land,” said Modi at a function where he dedicated to the nation the Rs.16,000-crore revamped and modernised IISCO Steel plant at industrial town of Burnpur in West Bengal’s Burdwan district, IANS reported.
“It has been a year of this new government, and today we don’t have news about the coal scam, rather about coal auction,” said Modi at the concluding engagement of his two-day maiden visit to the state since becoming the prime minister.
“We have news about the government exchequer getting Rs.3 lakh crore instead of the coal scam of Rs.1.74 lakh crore,” he added.
Modi said the government’s decision to auction coal has led to states getting richer and using the royalty money from the mines for the welfare of the people.
“Earlier, a leader would send a letter, saying give the coal mine to someone and without any procedures it was given. The government exchequer did not get a single penny. But we have shut that all and initiated auction.”
“We also decided that the money from the auctions will not go to Delhi but to that state’s coffers so that the government can initiate welfare of that state,” said Modi.
Modi said West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and all the states having coal deposits were reaping benefits of the coal auction.
He said a foundation was set up from the mines royalty for the welfare of the states.
“Most of the coal and minerals are in tribal areas, while the minerals were extracted, the tribal remained bereft of welfare.”
“So, we have decided to set up a foundation from the money we get from the royalties of the mineral. That money will be used for welfare of the districts,” Modi said.
The prime minister also expressed anguish over India importing steel.
“The irony is we kept exporting iron ore and imported steel. The country cannot run if we export wheat and buy back bread from foreign countries. If we have iron ore, we will produce steel,” he asserted.
Modi also said the Centre was working on developing the three main resources for funds – agricultural productivity, mineral resources and human resources.
“We have endeavoured to develop skill of our people, value addition of our mineral resources and increase agricultural productivity by improving fertility and providing assistance to farmers.”
“A year ago the entire world had written off India but now within a year the entire world, be it the IMF, the World Bank or the credit rating agencies, they are unanimously saying India is the fastest growing country in the world,” Modi added.
The prime mMinister made a vigorous pitch for the Centre and states to work together as ‘Team India’ to take the country forward, a view endorsed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Vowing to work with the states to “take India forward”, the Prime Minister said it has been a “misfortune” that in the past there have been tensions between states and the Centre.
“I too have been a Chief Minister for many years and I know that this attitude (of the Centre) towards states will not help anyone. Our Constitution has given us a federal structure. But unfortunately Centre-state relations have always come under stress”, he said after the inauguration of IISCO Steel Plant here in the presence of Banerjee.
Asserting that PM and CMs would act as a team which would take India forward, he said, “Delhi alone will not rule India as has happened for 60 years. Delhi will not be the only pillar on which the country will stand, but it will be supported by 30 pillars (of states)” and cited the creation of Niti Aayog which has all states as partners.
Citing the recent Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh, Modi said it was the perfect example of the success of “Team India”.
“We are proud that the states of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura had worked with Delhi in addressing the vexed issue which had remained unsolved for the past 41 years since the time of Mujibur Rahman.
“If there is Team India, we can solve problems of international issues and internal ones very easily,” he said.
Turning to West Bengal, the Prime Minister said his government’s effort was to make eastern India powerful. “For this, West Bengal needs to be strengthened first.”
“Earlier, the economic development of India was decided by the progress made in Bengal… Bengal will have to climb the ladder of development in the interest of the nation,” said Modi.
“Bengal will surely bounce bank in the coming days and become an important economic power,” he hoped, adding “if Bengal and Kolkata cannot become strong, then no part of the country can become strong”. “To take India forward, this land of Bengal will come to the country’s help”.
The Prime Minister said that political differences would remain, but it should not come in the way of country’s development.
Earlier, Banerjee said, “If we can work together, the country moves ahead. When we divide, the country is doomed. We don’t want division among people. Politics will be there and development will also be there.
“The federal and central structure will be there and we will work together within the ambit of the Constitution”.
Modi also took a dig at the previous UPA regime, saying the media was full of reports of “scams” of all kinds in that period.
“Now, the reports are not about coal scam but about coal auction,” he quipped, adding there had been no report of any scam even as his government got ready to complete one year in office this month.