Atal Setu a bridge to developed India, says PM; rails against dynastic politics at youth festival

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said India’s longest sea bridge Atal Setu was a symbol of infrastructural prowess and reflection of `Viksit’ or developed Bharat and asserted big-ticket development projects are no longer getting delayed as was the case before 2014 when only “mega scams” were a topic of discussion.

The bridge, known as Atal Bihari Vajpayee Sewri-Nhava Sheva Atal Setu, is a 6-lane trans-harbour sea link connecting Mumbai with its satellite city Navi Mumbai, and was inaugurated by Modi, more than seven years after he laid its foundation stone.

The 21.8-km-long engineering marvel, of which 16.5km is in the sea, has been built at a cost of Rs 17,840 crore and will cut the distance between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai from some hours to just 15-20 minutes.

When he laid the foundation stone of the project (then called Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link or MTHL), he had resolved that the country will undergo a change, the PM said at a programme in Navi Mumbai, noting the bridge’s construction got completed despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“(Earlier) People were fed up with mega projects getting stalled and had given up hope that such projects would ever be completed. It was Modi’s guarantee that the country will change,” the prime minister further said.

Before 2014, mega scams were a topic of discussion while now mega projects getting completed is a topic of discussion, Modi said, adding, “Dreams are coming true ten years later. The sea bridge is a reflection of `Viksit Bharat’ (developed India).”

The upcoming Navi Mumbai international airport, Mumbai coastal road, AURIC (Aurangabad Industrial City) in central Maharashtra’s Marathwada region, the Mumbai-Delhi Industrial Corridor and the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project will boost Maharashtra’s economy in the years to come, the prime minister said.

The Atal Setu was an important part of his government’s “Viksit Bharat Sankalp” (resolve to make India a developed country), he said, adding that not just the country but the whole world was “looking at the bridge.”

The Maharashtra government was implementing the “Modi guarantee” of women’s welfare and empowerment with its `Lek Ladki’ and `Mukhyamantri Nari Shakti’ schemes, he said.

“Modi’s guarantee begins when expectations from others cease to exist,” he asserted.

Besides the mega structure, the PM launched, dedicated to the nation or laid the foundation stone of infrastructure projects worth more than Rs 30,500 crore in the Mumbai region and also inaugurated the 27th National Youth Festival in Nashik during his day-long visit to Maharashtra.

He inaugurated the extension of a suburban rail corridor, a mega facilitation centre for gems and jewellery, and laid the foundation stone of a tunnel road in south Mumbai.

At a function in Ulwe in Navi Mumbai, Modi inaugurated the 14.60km Kharkopar-Uran stretch of the 27 km Belapur-Seawoods-Uran suburban corridor.

Earlier, addressing a gathering after inaugurating the 27th National Youth Festival in Nashik, Modi described India’s present-day youth as the most fortunate generation of the 21st century, poised to take the country to greater heights during ‘Amrit Kaal’, and urged them to participate in the electoral process to “reduce” the influence of dynastic politics.

Modi said dynastic politics has caused immense harm to the country and appealed to the youth to get themselves enrolled as voters as soon as possible.

“India is the mother of democracy. If youth express their political views by casting their votes, the future of the country will be good. Better participation of youth in the democratic process will ensure a better future for the country,” he said.

“If you participate in active politics (and electoral process), you will be able to reduce the influence of dynastic politics. You know that dynastic politics has harmed the country,” he said.

He urged young people to promote local products and appealed to them to “stay away from drugs and stop using abusive words in the name of mothers and sisters”.

Modi said India is harnessing its young population’s energy and skills

“India is among the top five global economies. It figures in the list of top three start-up ecosystems because of the commitment and calibre of the youth,” he maintained.

Cheapest mobile data in India amazes the people across the world, said the prime minister.

“We have to become the world’s third largest economy and make India a manufacturing hub like the status we have achieved in the service and the IT sector,” he said, adding the world looks at India as a country with a skilled workforce.

“I consider the youth of the 21st century as the most fortunate generation to take India to higher strides. You have the opportunity to create history, grab it,” Modi said, addressing the gathering.

Modi said there are new employment opportunities in the country, start-ups are coming up, the emerging skill sector is booming and new IITs and NITs are being opened.

“The drone sector, animation, gaming, atomic, big highways, modern airports and Vande Bharat Express trains are all for you… Now, the country is also leading in various sectors and the world is astonished by our progress — be it Chandrayaan (moon), Aditya-L1 (solar) missions or the UPI payment scheme,” the PM added.

Talking about Lord Ram’s connection with Nashik, he said the Hindu deity spent a lot of time in Panchavati in the north Maharashtra city, located around 200km from Mumbai.

“I appeal to people to conduct cleanliness drives in all temples and pilgrimage centres by January 22 before the consecration ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya,” the PM said.

During his visit to Nashik, the PM offered prayers at the famous Kalaram temple, dedicated to Lord Ram, and took part in ‘bhajan’ and ‘kirtan’ and played cymbals at the shrine. He also held a roadshow in the city.