Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said linking politics to development has been the biggest obstacle in India’s growth.
The key to progress lies in robust infrastructure and efforts have led to rolling out of stuck projects worth Rs 4 lakh crore, he added.
Asking states to create a sound infrastructure in order to ensure that development percolates down to the down-trodden and the poor, Modi cited Korea’s example as to how it achieved economic prosperity through creating a network of highways.
The Prime Minister was addressing a public rally at Rajiv Gandhi Education City, Sonipat in Haryana after laying the foundation stone of three major highway projects in the state – Western Peripheral Expressway, Eastern Peripheral Expressway and eight-laning of Highway section from Mukarba Chowk (Delhi) to Panipat.
Modi said, “In today’s era, infrastructure is the first and foremost priority for development. Be it power, water, road and wherever infrastructure reaches, development gets accelerated, a big change comes in quality of life when such facilities come.
“But most of the times in our country, governments remain in dilemma. They feel if any voter gets benefited, then there will be benefits in elections. But if roads are made, people feel ‘usme kya hai’ (what is a big deal in it)… it is the work of the government… ‘mera kya hua’ (what benefit I got out of it).
“And this dilemma has been there for years in our country, and perhaps is the biggest stumbling block in the country’s development.”
He said it should be the state’s priority to ensure that benefits of development should reach the doors of dalits and down-trodden in the society and their equal participation in development.
“But if equitable development is to be undertaken and to make people self dependent, it is essential to focus on infrastructure,” he said.
Citing how Korea achieved economic prosperity, Modi said, “… Korea is a good example, see how it has progressed by leaps and bounds. Their rulers started a modern highway cutting through the country, but there was much controversy as it was reasoned at that time that the nation is poor, it does not have schools, hospitals and spending so much money on roads was not a wise step…
“… but rulers of that country at that time, still went ahead and did this and it changed the fate of entire Korea.”
Modi said during the last five-six months he had reviewed pending projects in meetings with the Chief Ministers through video conferencing and stuck projects worth Rs 4 lakh crore could be rolled out.
No body would have imagined during 60 years of independence that highways building would pick up such fast pace in the country under the leadership of Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, Modi said, adding that the projects include Bharatmala, Sagarmala and Sethu Bharatam.
He said government would lay emphasis that a wide network of highways be created in the country, including linking of 123 districts with National Highways, which sadly were devoid of it despite over six decades of independence.
The PM said under Sethu Bharatam, 375 bridges were needed for connectivity because the project aimed at providing vital connectivity through bridges.
On the other side, Sagarmala would usher in port-led development projects in coastal cities, he said, adding that coastal trade too played a pivotal role in the economic growth of the country.
Stressing on promoting waterways, Modi said if apples of Himachal Pradesh could be delivered to different corners in the world through this mode, think how much the farmers would be benefited, he said, stressing on rail-road connectivity at the same time.
The PM said the government has undertaken several initiatives, including converting the present rail era into a modern one with initiatives like expansion and modernisation of railway stations.
Unfortunately, 18,000 villages in modern India still lack electricity connection and no electric pole or wire is there in the 21st century but the government is committed in this direction too, he said.
“The government is committed to take 24×7 electricity to every village by 2022 and is not a simple task,” he said and stressed that modern era, apart from highways is also the era of I-ways — Information Ways.
Digital connectivity will not lack and optical fiber network will be laid down, he said, adding, “In changed era, we also need I-way along with highway. We also need Information way.
“To achieve dream of our Digital India and important infrastructure of 21st century, it is the I-way along with Highway. Highways have become the first condition of modern India.”
Further, the Prime Minister said that it is not money that builds roads, but it is roads which generate money.
Modi said these highways would give pace to Haryana’s growth, adding that Rs 32,000 crore worth of projects are there for the state.
The Prime Minister said the central government is working towards removing bottlenecks and simplifying procedures to speed up implementation of infrastructure projects.