Narendra Modi birthday today: At Sardar Sarovar dam, PM says BJP's decision on Kashmir inspired by Vallabhbhai Patel

  • The prime minister, who offered prayers on the banks of the Narmada river on Tuesday morning, also said that the Sardar Sarovar Dam was an example that development can go hand-in-hand with conserving the environment

  • He hailed the Gujarat government's efforts to promote eco-tourism in Kevadia

  • Modi also praised freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, whose 138-metre-high statue is on the banks of the river

On his 69th birthday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a gathering at Kevadia in Gujarat on Tuesday after a whirlwind of celebratory programs. Making a strong pitch for eco-tourism at the site of the 'Statue of Unity', Modi spoke at the event organised on the banks of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Touching upon many issues, including abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and developing eco-tourism across the country, Modi lauded Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for his contributions.

At Sardar Sarovar dam, Modi thanked the "lakhs of people" who had made the project "a success" and said that the facility was catering to the needs of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan. He also lauded the project for being instrumental in curbing drought-like situations in his home state, Gujarat.

"Now the focus is on 'per drop, more crop'. Nineteen lakh hectare land in Gujarat is now under micro-irrigation." The prime minister, who offered prayers on the banks of the Narmada river on Tuesday morning, also said that the Sardar Sarovar Dam was an example of the fact that development can go hand-in-hand with conserving the environment. "In our culture, it is believed that development can be made while protecting the environment, and it is evident here. Nature is dear to us, it is our jewel," he said.

Hailing the Gujarat government's efforts to promote eco-tourism in Kevadia, he said, "On one side is the Sardar Sarovar Dam, and electricity-generating equipment, and on the other side, there are very beautiful arrangements related to eco-tourism like Ekta Nursery, butterfly garden. Amid all this, a grand statue of Sardar Patel is seen as blessing us."

Modi also praised freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, whose 138-metre-high statue is on the banks of the river, saying that he continues to be a "symbol of willpower". "I believe that with his inspiration, we will prove every resolve associated with the new India, we will achieve every goal," he added.

He also credited the Centre's decision to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir to Patel. The decision has been received by members of the Opposition as well as sections of the public with condemnation. He said, "BJP's decision on Kashmir inspired by Sardar Patel and an attempt to find solution to decades-old problem."

Centre on 5 August revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and proposed that the state be bifurcated into two union territories.

The prime minister also said the Hyderabad Liberation Day is a result of Sardar Patel's vision. Observed on 17 September each year, it marks the day in 1948 when the erstwhile Hyderabad State was annexed to the Indian Union.

Additionally, Modi said he was happy to see the "rising number" of visitors to the Statue of Unity. "While the 133-year-old State of Liberty gets around 10,000 visitors per day, about 8,500 people visit the 11-month-old Statue of Unity daily", he said.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Sep 17, 2019 15:38:27 IST