Ignoring the politics, drama and electoral hoopla behind the seaplane that carried prime minister Narendra Modi to Dharoi dam, 180km away from Sabarmati riverfront, may be difficult. But Modi seems to have conveyed to staunch opponents in Congress that he’s not bereft of ideas for Gujarat by hopping on the US-made single engine seaplane.
He drew the city voters to Sabarmati riverfront in droves as he wound up the 49-days high decibel election campaign for state assembly. Modi also managed to hog the limelight. One cannot, however, dismiss the seaplane ride as a mere stunt. The seaplane adventure seems to have been carefully charted days in advance. And, PM Modi seems to have successfully sold his politico-economic agenda much ahead of the Gujarat polls.
How can one forget the Rs 615 crore roll on roll off (RoRo) ferry service that he flagged off between Ghogha in Saurashtra and Dahej in south Gujarat that will cut the distance between two regions to 30 km from prevailing 310 km on road? Bullet train network linking Ahmedabad with Mumbai was also conceptualised and pushed by Modi. Roads network and shipping lines through a dedicated maritime board in Gujarat have given a glimpse of what’s in store for the state on transport front.
Modi seems to have made infrastructure as his biggest idea for Gujarat where his party has been in power for over 22 years in continuum. It’s not just movement of people but cargo that would move through sea and river lines giving a big boost to goods and services consumption with interlinked markets in the state.
Several such high profile projects that have been put on implementation mode speak volumes for Modi’s trust to usher in economic prosperity through infrastructure development. Already, 106 rivers identified by centre are being converted into waterways to move freight cargo, speed up people’s transport and reduce distances. Linking large rivers, setting up large and medium sized ports across the country’s seacoast will give a leg up to India’s maritime trade.
Integrating the rivers and sea-based ships movement with roads and rail network would be key to judiciously using scarce resources while deriving maximum benefit from the transport initiative. Putting Rs 200,000 crore on waterways and maritime sea lines will be a game changer in India’s post-independence history. Additionally, development of small and medium airports with regional airlines and freight carriers would take the pressure off the roads and rail networks that have increasingly become crammed.
Bharat mala, the ambitious project of roads network with proposed investment of $83 billion would only add heft to India’s progress connecting each nook and corner. This 24,500-km long roads network along with another 10,800 km road stretches under National Highways Development Project (NHDP) will change the face of India in next decade.
Sagar mala, the network of small and medium ports, coastal economic zones being executed with $200 billion over next seven years would give further edge to India’s ambitions for evolving as a global economic power. This has the potential to propel huge merchandise exports beyond the targeted five per cent global share.
One cannot blame PM Modi’s for selling economic plans utilising electoral politics.