‘UPA tried to BAN development’: Modi says he’ll ‘roll over’ Congress environmental concerns at ferry service launch in poll-bound Gujarat


UPA tried to BAN development

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated the first phase of the roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) ferry service connecting Saurashtra with south Gujarat.

The landmark project has become embroiled in a political row over the delay in announcement of poll dates for the state.

While launching the project, Modi blamed the previous UPA government for delaying the venture by creating hurdles in the name of environment.

Modi, who is visiting the state for the third time this month, also took the first trip in the ferry from Ghogha to Dahej with 100 visually-impaired children from Bhavnagar.

‘This is the first of its kind project not only in India, but also in Southeast Asia,’ Modi said at a rally in Ghogha, which comes ahead of Assembly polls in the state.

The Congress had alleged that the government put pressure on the Election Commission to delay announcement of the Gujarat elections to enable the Prime Minister to offer sops to the state.

‘This is also a unique project as the state government has used the latest technology to make this ferry service possible,’ said Modi, who had earlier termed it his ‘dream project’.

‘I had laid the foundation stone for the project in 2012, but for doing work in the ocean, you had to remain dependent on the central government then.

‘There were such people in the central government that they had put a ban on development from Vapi to Mandvi in Kutch along coastal Gujarat.’

‘All over, industries were threatened to be closed down in the name of environment.

‘I know how many challenges I had faced for the development of Gujarat,’ he said attacking the Congress-led UPA government.

Hailing the project as a precious gift to the country from Ghogha, Modi blamed the UPA for ignoring the shipping and port sector.

‘In the past decades, shipping and port sectors were ignored. To modernise the sector, the government has begun Sagarmala programme,’ Modi said.

‘Had they (the UPA government) understood the power of the ocean, people in this region would not have been forced to leave their homes for work in other cities.’

The first phase of the project connects Ghogha of Bhavnagar district in Saurashtra region to Dahej of Bharuch district in south Gujarat.

In the first phase which was inaugurated by Modi, only passengers can travel, while in the second phase which will start after two months, light vehicles such as cars can be ferried.

In the third phase, heavy vehicles such as trucks can also be taken in the ferry.

Modi also asserted that the process of taking important decisions regarding economic reforms will continue.

The assertion came at a time when Opposition parties have been attacking the BJP over demonetisation and GST.

Modi reached out to traders, saying their past records will not be checked by the income tax department if they join the formal economy by getting themselves registered under GST.

‘After all reforms and hard decisions, the economy of the country is on track and is going in the right direction,’ Modi said addressing a rally in Dahej.


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