Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday attacked the Congress, saying that those who were in power in the country for a long time post-Independence, never gave priority to the development of tribal areas as it required hard work. Addressing the Gujarat Gaurav Abhiyan rally in Khudvel village located in tribal-dominated Navsari district of the state, Modi said he does not launch development works to get votes or to win elections, but he does so with the intention of improving the lives of people. Assembly polls in Gujarat, Modi’s home state, are scheduled by the end this year, where the ruling BJP seeks to retain power.
“Those who ruled the country for a long time after Independence, never gave priority to the development of tribal areas. They never undertook development works in the areas where it was required the most, because it needed hard work. There were no proper roads in tribal areas in the past,” Modi said without naming any party. On the occasion, the prime minister either inaugurated or laid the foundation stone for various projects worth Rs 3,050 crore for the tribal region.
“Earlier, it used to take years for the administration to cover people living in remote villages and tribal areas under the vaccination programme. While cities were covered easily, people living in forests were left out in the past. But we have taken care of the people living in these areas (during the COVID-19 vaccination drive),” he said. When Modi asked the people present on the occasion whether they have received anti-coronavirus vaccine doses free of cost or not, the crowd replied in the affirmative. He said there was a chief minister from this tribal region, whose village did not have any water tank and people were dependent on hand-pumps.
“But after becoming CM, I ordered construction of a water tank. Gujarat has also seen those days when even the inauguration of a water tank in Jamnagar became a front page news item,” Modi said. On the occasion, the prime minister performed ‘bhoomi pujan’ (ground-breaking ceremony) of 13 water supply projects for residents of Tapi, Navsari and Surat districts, worth Rs 961 crore.
Modi also inaugurated the Madhuban dam-based Astol regional water supply project built at a cost of about Rs 586 crores. This project involves taking drinking water to the height of over 1,8oo feet or as high as a 200-storey building. He also performed the ground-breaking ceremony of a medical college in Navsari district, to be built at a cost of about Rs 542 crores aimed at providing affordable and quality medical care to the people of the region. Also, ‘Nal Se Jal’ projects worth Rs 163 crore were inaugurated by him. These projects will provide safe and adequate drinking water to the residents of Surat, Navsari, Valsad and Tapi districts, an official release said.
Notably, Modi had performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the ambitious Astol water supply project in August 2018 meant to end the water woes of nearly four lakh people living in the hilly areas of Dharampur and Kaprada taluka of tribal-dominated Valsad district. “Some people say that we are doing such work keeping in mind the elections. I have been in public life for over two decades. I challenge them to show me a single week when I did not launch a developmental project. In 2018, some people had claimed that we were doing it for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” he added. “Now, it is proven that they were wrong. We lifted water and took it to the top of the hill. Who would do such hard work for some 200-300 votes? We did that to make people’s lives better, not because of elections,” he said referring to the Astol water supply project. Modi also said that in the past, there were no science stream schools in tribal region of the state for Class 12 students.
“But after becoming Gujarat CM in 2001, I took up the task of building science stream schools in tribal regions. And now, we have medical and engineering colleges as well as universities in the tribal region,” the PM added. Modi also said that speedy development in Gujarat over the last two decades was the pride of the state.
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