Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday laid foundation stone for infrastructure projects worth more than Rs1.06 trillion in Mumbai metropolitan region. The move comes two months ahead of Mumbai civic polls and could provide a big boost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign for the same.
Modi also performed bhoomipujan (land worship) for a memorial to Maharashtra icon Chhatrapati Shivaji in the Arabian sea. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray joined Modi for the foundation-laying ceremony which was followed by a public rally. Modi then moved to Pune to lay the foundation for the first corridor of the city’s metro project.
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Speaking at the public rally, and virtually kicking off the BJP’s campaign for Mumbai local body elections, Modi said development was the only solution to all problems. He pointed out that it was rare that development projects worth more than Rs1.06 trillion had been inaugurated in one go for Mumbai.
Elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), currently ruled by a Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, are due in February 2017, and the allies have yet to decide on a pre-poll tie-up.
Modi also used the stage to reiterate his message against “corruption, fake currency, and black money". He thanked the people of Maharashtra for supporting the BJP in the recent municipal polls, saying that it was a vote for demonetisation. “I had said in Goa only that a handful of people who have milked this country for 70 years would gang up against me and create obstacles. They have been doing everything that they can, but they will not win this fight because 125 crore Indians are with me.
“The fight against corruption and black money has now become the fight by the people against these handful of corrupt people. Demonetisation has changed the temper of the people and the corrupt must take note. This fight will not stop. It will continue till we win it," Modi said.
The prime minister warned the “dishonest" that the countdown for them would begin on 30 December. “After the 50-day timeline is over, the difficulties faced by honest people will start mitigating, but the difficulties faced by the dishonest will start increasing. The dishonest will not be spared," he said. “The real thing will begin only now after these people have deposited their black money with the banks," he said.
Some of the major infrastructure projects in Mumbai for which Modi laid the foundation stone on Saturday include the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, a 22-km-long six-lane road project worth Rs17,843 crore to connect Mumbai with Navi Mumbai across the creek; Metro II, a 23-km-long corridor between D.N. Nagar and Mankhurd worth Rs14,549 crore; Metro IV corridor, a 33-km-long elevated track between Wadala and Thane worth Rs10,986 crore; and third phase of Mumbai Urban Transport Project worth Rs11,000 crore.
Modi also laid the foundation stone for the Pune Metro project worth Rs11,400 crore later in Pune. Railway minister Suresh Prabhu, Maharashtra government and the Indian Railways exchanged MoUs for crore Churchgate to Virar elevated corridor worth Rs20,000 and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Panvel elevated corridor worth Rs15,000 crore. The Shivsmarak, or the Shivaji Memorial to be constructed off the Mumbai coast, will cost the state exchequer Rs3,600 crore.
Union minister for transport and shipping, Nitin Gadkari, and Prabhu claimed that all these projects were pending for the last 15 years of the Congress-NCP rule in Maharashtra. Gadkari also announced road projects worth Rs3 trillion in Maharashtra in a span of five years. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said his government had taken up a massive expansion of Metro rail network to add 200-km-long capacity of which work has already begun on 130 kilometres.