Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said though the Taranga-Ambaji-Abu Road railway line was conceived nearly 100 years ago during British rule and the project was important, the then-Congress-led UPA government did not give approval for it despite the Gujarat government under his chief ministership submitting a proposal for the same. The PM made the comments at a public rally in Ambaji town of Banaskantha district after performing ground-breaking for the broad gauge railway line project which will be completed at a cost of Rs 2,798 crore.
In all, Modi, who is on a two-day Gujarat visit, either inaugurated or laid foundation stones for projects worth nearly Rs 7,000 crore before addressing the rally in Ambaji, a famous pilgrimage town. “Britishers had taken the decision to lay a railway line connecting Taranga Hill, Ambaji (Gujarat), and Abu Road (now in Rajasthan) in 1930, nearly 100 years ago. This proves the railway line was really needed. But, unfortunately, no decision was taken for its implementation after our independence. The file remained untouched for decades after independence," rued Modi.
“As Gujarat CM, I followed it up and also sent a proposal to the Centre. But no one paid attention because the government was of some other party," said Modi in a veiled attack on the Congress. The Congress headed the UPA coalition government at the Centre from 2004 to 2014.
However, things changed when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government assumed office at the Centre in 2014, the prime minister said. “But now, our double engine government has received this opportunity to dedicate this project on the feet of Goddess Amba," said the PM on the second and last day of his latest visit to Gujarat, where Assembly polls are due by the year-end.
“Double engine government" referred to BJP-led governments in Gujarat and also at the Centre. According to the PM, the new railway line along with the upcoming Dedicated Freight Corridor will help farmers as well as local businessmen in expanding their business.
Referring to the ongoing development in the region, the PM said he wants to develop the entire belt, from Dharoi dam in Mehsana to Ambaji in Banaskantha district, on the lines of the Statue of Unity, a major tourist attraction in Narmada district. Completion of the Statue of Unity, an ode to the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, spawned a slew of infrastructure and other development projects around the site and nearby areas.
On the occasion, the PM either inaugurated or laid foundation stones for nearly 61,000 houses under various government schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna - Gramin and Dr BR Ambedkar Awas Yojna.He also interacted with some of the beneficiaries before his address.
“So far, our government has handed over nearly 3 crore houses to the needy citizens. And, thanks to our policy, the majority of the houses are in the name of mothers. Last year, nearly 1.5 lakh houses were completed in Gujarat alone," said the PM. Modi also launched the Gujarat government’s “Gaumata Poshan Yojna", a scheme of disbursing grants to owners of gaushalas or cattle sheds for the upkeep of cows and other abandoned cattle.
Some of the major projects launched by the PM included construction of a runway and other infrastructure at the Deesa Air Force Station, inauguration of the Palanpur-Mehsana railway line and ground-breaking for a bypass road to ease traffic in Ambaji town.