The first phase of the Ro-Ro ferry service in Gujarat is meant for passengers
Gandhinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's third visit to his home state Gujarat this month saw the announcement of projects worth Rs 2000 crore. The state also had its first "roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro)" ferry service - a Rs Rs. 650-crore initiative which the Prime Minister inaugurated this morning, calling it his "dream project". The day ended with a triumphant roadshow in Vadodara, where people lined the roads to cheer PM Modi. Assembly elections in the state will be held later this year, the dates are yet to be announced by the Election Commission.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the ferry service between Ghogha and Dahej in the Gulf of Cambay was his "invaluable gift to India" and claimed that even for South-East Asia, this was the first project of its size. "This programme may be for a ferry between Ghogha and Dahej, but it is of vital importance for the entire nation," he said.
From Ghogha, PM Modi went to Dahej in Bharuch in the newly-launched the ferry service. His next stop was Vadodara, where he inaugurated developmental and infrastructure projects worth over Rs. 1,140 crore. Prominent among these were a multi-level transport hub called Jan Mahal and several water purification and supply projects.
The 31-km ferry service will cut travel time from nearly eight hours to one and hugely benefit the people working in the diamond-cutting and polishing hub of Surat. The on-road distance between the two towns will be down from 310 km to 30 km.
Ajay Bhadoo, Chief Executive Officer of the Gujarat Maritime Board which is executing the Ro-Ro project, said the first phase of the service is meant for passengers. In the second phase - which will be rolled out in two months - the boats will be able to ferry cars. In the final phase, it would also have the facility to carry trucks.
The idea of a ferry service dates back to early 1960s. But it was started in January 2012, when PM Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Underscoring the need for better use of waterways, PM Modi said, Our new mantra is "P for P -- Ports for Prosperity".
Taking a swipe at the Congress, the Prime Minister said when he was serving as the Chief Minister of the state, he faced hostility from the then Central Government. "Efforts were made to stall industries and the state's growth. Over the last three years we have changed that and given importance to the development of Gujarat," PM Modi said.
Projects worth over Rs 13,000 crore has been initiated in Gujarat this month by the Central government. This includes a Rs 6,000 crore deal with United Phosphorus to procure fertilisers, Pay Commission benefits for 15,000 workers of the municipal corporation and zero interest crop loans upto Rs 3 lakh for farmers.
The opposition Congress has vehemently criticized the BJP, accusing it of taking "undue advantage" ahead of the coming assembly elections in the state. "The Election Commission has delayed the announcement of elections under pressure," said Congress leader Meem Afzal, reiterating the allegation made after the announcement of the election schedule for Himachal Pradesh on October 12.
The BJP has brushed off the accusation. Party spokesperson Nali Kohli said, "Why is the Congress getting so disturbed when it comes to the discourse on development? May be they are not able to compete with PM Modi."
The Prime Minister has made multiple visits to Gujarat ahead of the elections. He addressed a massive rally in capital Gandhinagar earlier this week. Last week, he inaugurated various projects in Rajkot, his hometown Vadnagar, Gandhinagar and Bharuch.