Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said cities will shape the destiny of India and they will ensure that it becomes a developed nation in the next 25 years.
He said that new cities are being built in the country as per the global business demand.
Addressing a gathering in Ahmedabad after inaugurating the Gandhinagar-Mumbai Vande Bharat Express train and inaugurating phase-1 of the Ahmedabad metro rail project, he also made a pitch for modernising cities as per the changing times and called for the creation of twin cities.
"India of the 21st century is going to get new momentum from the cities of the country. With the changing times, it is necessary to continuously modernise our cities with the changing needs. So much focus is being given and investment being made on the cities in the country, because they will ensure the creation of a developed India in the coming 25 years," he said.
Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Bhopal, Indore, Jaipur - these cities will shape the destiny of India in the next 25 years. These investments are not limited to connectivity alone, but smart facilities are being put in place in dozens of cities; basic facilities are being improved and suburbs are being developed, he said.
On twin cities, he said, "Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad is an excellent example of how a twin city is developed. Base is being prepared for development of many twin cities in Gujarat. So far, we have heard about the New York-New Jersey twin cities. Our India cannot lag behind." Twin cities like Anand-Nadiad, Bharuch-Ankleshwar, valsad-Vapi, Surat-Navsari, Vadodara-Kalol, Morbi-Vankaner, Mehsana-Kadi will strengthen the identity of Gujarat, he added.
"Along with the focus on improving and expanding the existing cities, new cities are also being built as per the global business demand," he said.
Calling for the need to modernise the transport systems in cities, he said, "There should be seamless connectivity. One mode of transport should support the other. This is necessary..." PM Modi said that serious efforts were not made earlier to avoid road jams and to increase the speed of trains.
"But today's India considers speed as important and a guarantee for rapid development. This request for speed is also visible in today's Gati Shakti National Master Plan, National Logistics Policy, and campaign to increase the speed of railway," he said.
The new Vande Bharat Express train flagged off from Gandhinagar Capital railway station will reduce the travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai from eight hours to five-and-a-half hours and make the journey comfortable, he said.
PM Modi announced that India will launch 75 Vande Bharat Express trains, and said. "Its speciality is that it gathers speed in just within 52 seconds. When cheetahs were brought to India, there was a discussion on how fast it picks up speed." Even Shatabdi trains take six and seven hours. But this Vande Bharat train will reach Mumbai from Ahmedabad in five-and-a-half hours, he said, adding that more improvements will be introduced gradually.
He said that during his interaction with the railway staff at Kashi, he learnt that poor people were using Vande Bharat trains as they provide more luggage space and reduce the travel time that help them recover the ticket cost.
Similarly, the routes of the Ahmedabad Metro rail project were planned in such a way as to benefit the poor. It was planned on stretches with narrow roads, and with the aim to make the city a hub for multi-modal connectivity, he said.
As Gujarat chief minister, he had conducted a global summit on multi-modal transportation. He could not do much on it as it was the subject of the central government, but he has done it now since he is in the government at the Centre, PM Modi added.
"I see this thinking coming to reality today. And with this thinking, such a huge investment is being made on the city's infrastructure," the Prime Minister said.
PM Modi said that in the last eight years of his rule, metro rail projects have either been launched or work is going at a fast pace in more than two dozen cities in the country. Similarly, the UDAN Scheme is playing a big role in providing facilities in smaller cities.
The Ahmedabad metro rail project was completed despite challenges about laying of its railway lines at certain stretches, and no extra land was required. Gandhinagar is being connected in the second phase of the project, he added.
PM Modi said that the government is also focusing on running electric buses in order to get rid of smoke, to save the environment and increase speed.
"So far, more than 7,000 electric buses have been sanctioned in the country under this scheme with around Rs 3,500 crore being spent by the central government. For Gujarat, 850 electric buses have been approved. Many of these buses are already on the roads," he said.
Increasing the speed of goods trains will help ports to operate in a faster way and create the possibility of benefits to coastal areas of Saurashtra-Kutch in Gujarat.
"In the last eight years, we have connected infrastructure to public aspiration. There was a time when announcements regarding infrastructure were made keeping in mind gains and losses in elections, when taxpayers' money was used for political benefit," PM Modi said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)