PM Modi launches mega pharma, hydro projects in poll-bound Himachal (2nd Ld)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during day-long visit of Himachal Pradesh on Thursday flagged off high-speed luxury fourth Vande Bharat Express and laid the foundation stones of Bulk Drug Park that will attract investment of around Rs 10,000 crore and provide employment to more than 20,000 people, and two mega hydropower projects.

This is the Prime Minister’s ninth visit to the state in the five years and second in almost a week.

Besides flagging off the train and laying the foundation stone of Bulk Drug Park, he also inaugurated the Rs 128 crore Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) set up in Una well ahead of the Assembly polls in the BJP-ruled state.

Later, the Prime Minister laid foundation stones for two hydropower projects of nearly Rs 700 crore and launched the Rs 3,000 crore Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)-III at another function in Chamba town.

After launching development projects at both places, Modi at public meetings said these will have a positive impact on the region’s progress and this became a reality with the state’s double-engine government that has ensured “approvals for projects and their fast progress”.

At both venues, chants of ‘Modi hai toh mumkin hai’ echoed in the air.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who is leading the party’s election campaign that has gained momentum, said this was the ninth visit of the Prime Minister which reflected his bonding with the state and its people.

He said Congress leaders were baffled due to the visits of the Prime Minister, as they knew the Congress would be completely wiped out from the state in the coming Assembly elections.

With the launch of the Vande Bharat Express service, the travel time between Delhi and Chandigarh would be brought down to three hours. From October 19, it will run six days a week, except Friday.

Running from Amb Andaura to New Delhi, the inaugural run of Vande Bharat Express is the fourth Vande Bharat train to be introduced in the country and is an advanced version compared to the earlier ones, being much lighter and capable of reaching higher speed in shorter duration.

It accelerates to 100 km per hour in just 52 seconds. The introduction of the train will help boost tourism in the region and provide a comfortable and faster mode of travel.

The Prime Minister’s clarion call for Aatmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India has led to the country moving swiftly towards attainment of self-reliance across multiple sectors, through support of various new initiatives of the government.

One such key sector is pharmaceuticals, and in order to bring in Aatmanirbharta in this sector the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of Bulk Drug Park at Haroli to be built at a cost of Rs 1,923 crore.

The park will help reduce dependence on active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) or pharmaceutical raw material imports. It is expected to attract investment of around Rs 10,000 crore and provide employment to more than 20,000 people. It will also give a fillip to the economic activities in the region.

The foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Una was laid by the Prime Minister in 2017. Currently, more than 530 students are pursuing education in the institute.

After the inauguration and the public meeting in Una, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of two hydropower projects — the 48 MW Chanju-III Hydro-electric Project and the 30 MW Deothal Chanju Hydro-electric Project — in Chamba, the historical town visited by a Prime Minister for the first time after 1981.

Both these hydro projects will generate over 270 million units of electricity annually and Himachal Pradesh is expected to get an annual revenue of around Rs 110 crore from these projects.

Prime Minister Modi also launched the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)-III for upgradation of around 3,125 km of roads in the state.

More than Rs 420 crore has been sanctioned by the Central government under this phase for the upgradation of 440 km of roads in 15 border and far-flung blocks of the state.

Amid a massive crowd at a public meeting in Chamba, Modi said the BJP’s double-engine government made domestic gas connections available for every home in the state.

Trying to build a bond with the locals, Modi said during the Minjar Mela a teacher from Chamba shared information about this place through a letter which he shared in his monthly radio talk show ‘Mann Ki Baat’.

He also fondly praised Devika, a Class nine girl student from Kerala, who sang folk song ‘Chamba kitni ki door’ narrating the town’s picturesque beauty. The song has gone viral.

Launching the rural roads scheme, Modi said in the past eight years 12,000 km roads have been built in rural areas.

The Election Commission, which just concluded its three-day visit to the state, is likely to announce the election schedule in the next few days.

The BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections had won all the four seats that saw 72.25 per cent polling.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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