In his fifth visit to Gujarat since September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reassured the country over the economy and added that all the economic indicators show that India is moving in the right direction.
"Many economists agree that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. After all hardcore reforms, the economy is on track and moving in the right direction," Modi said addressing a gathering in Dahej in Hindi.
Modi was speaking after travelling on the inaugural ferry from Ghogha in Bhavnagar district to reach Dahej, which is situated in Bharuch district.
The prime minister also added that his government has taken tough decisions for the economy and will continue to do so while maintaining financial stability. Praising demonetisation and the new GST tax regime, Modi said that they helped fight rampant corruption in the system.
"After demonetisation, black money is now safe in the banks while GST has changed business culture. Cost of goods are now down, while corruption is coming down," Modi said.
Modi also promised that those who were evading paying taxes to the government will not be harrassed after they joining the mainstream economy.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister inaugurated first phase of Rs 615 crore 'RO-RO' ferry service between Ghogha and Dahej. Calling it his dream project, Modi told the gathering at the inauguration ceremony, "This is the first of its kind project not only in India but also in Southeast Asia."
Modi called it a unique project as the state government used the latest technology to make this ferry service possible.
"The dream of 6.5 crore Gujaratis had come true as the ferry service would lead to social and economic development in the region and bring thousands of new job opportunities," the prime minister said.
In the second phase, which will be ready in two months, cars can also be carried between the two towns.
The service reduces the distance between the two towns from 310 kilometres by road to just 30 kilometres, which can be covered in one hour. Modi had laid the foundation stone for the project in January 2012, when he was Gujarat chief minister.
Modi also blasted the Congress saying the previous Congress-led government at the Centre had stalled all development projects in Gujarat by creating procedural hurdles in the name of the environment.
"When I was the chief minster, I faced hostility from the then central government. People at the Center were like that. From Vapi to Mandvi in Kutch, they (the UPA government) had banned development in the entire coastal area of Gujarat. They had threatened to lock all our industries in the name of the environment," Modi said.
The prime minister said that the earlier central governments wanted the Ro-Ro service provider to build terminals. "Tell me, do aircraft operators build airports or bus operators build roads? It is the government's job. So, we took up the job," he said, adding that over the last three years the central government changed its attitude towards Gujarat.
Upon reaching Dahej, Modi addressed the gathering by the newly inaugurated ferry. Modi stressed on the need to diversify India's transport infrastructure.
Lamenting that waterways have not been utilised properly in India, Modi said that while waterways is a major transport source in other countries, accounting for at least 30 percent, it is negligible in our country.
Slamming the previous governments at the state and the Centre, Modi said that it is a matter of surprise that the first port policy was made in 1995.
"Our port policy was made in 1995. The policy was made 48 years after independence. This showed that there was no vision for development. So, we suffered huge losses," Modi said.
Pushing for more coal transport through waterways, Modi counted the benefits of such a move.
"If we transport coal through the sea route, it is just 20 paise. But if we do so through railways it is 1.25 rupees. So, why should not we transport coal in a cheaper manner," he said.
Stating that his government is committed to taking several initiatives for the transport sector, Modi said, "Our mantra is P for ports (and) for prosperity.We plan to invest Rs 8 lakh crore in the ambitious Sagarmala project.
The prime minister highlighted the importance of ports in the 21st Century by linking it to the "blue economy" initiative.
"We talk of blue economy, which is a mix of ecology, ecosystem along with economic development. I feel the 21st Century industrial revolution will happen because of blue revolution," Modi said.
Praising the NDA government, Modi claimed that nowadays the pace of infrastructure development has doubled, adding that he had taken lessons from Gujarat to fasten the pace of lagging projects.
Modi's frequent visits to Gujarat have been linked to the upcoming Assembly election in the state.
The prime minister had earlier visited Gujarat on Monday when he addressed BJP workers at a rally in Gandhinagar.
Prior to that, on 8 October, Modi visited his hometown Vadnagar. He also inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of various projects in Rajkot, Vadnagar, Gandhinagar and Bharuch.
The election for the 182-members Gujarat Assembly is due before 22 January 2018 when its term ends.
The Election Commission has not announced the poll dates as of now even citing it would bring in the imposition of the model code of conduct that would disrupt relief operation for flood-hit victims.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Nov 24, 2017 16:50 PM