The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of road and ropeway projects worth more than Rs 3400 crore in Mana, Uttarakhand today. Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister visited Kedarnath and performed darshan and pooja at Shri Kedarnath Temple. He also visited the Adi Guru Shankaracharya Samadhi Sthal and reviewed the work in progress along Mandakini Asthapath and Saraswati Asthapath. The Prime Minister also visited Badrinath and performed darshan and pooja at Shri Badrinath Temple. He then reviewed the work in progress along the Alaknanda riverfront.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister expressed his feeling of bliss after performing darshan and pooja at the shrines. “My life became blessed, the mind became happy and these moments became alive”, he said. Recalling the words that he spoke during his earlier visit that the decade will belong to Uttarakhand, the Prime Minister said that he has full faith that Baba Kedar and Badri Vishal will bless those words. “Today, I am here among you to reiterate the same resolve with these new projects”, he said.
Noting that Mana village is known as the last village at India’s borders, the Prime Minister said, “For me, every village at the border is the first village of the country and the people residing near the border make for the country’s strong guard. The Prime Minister recalled his long association with the area and his continuous espousal of its importance. He also noted their support and confidence. He thanked the people of Mana for their continuous love and support.
The Prime Minister talked about the two major pillars of the developed India of the 21st century. “First, pride in our heritage and second, all possible efforts for development. Today Uttarakhand is strengthening both these pillars”, he said. He informed that while he felt blessed by the Darshans at Kedarnath and Badri Vishal, he also reviewed the development projects as “130 crore people are also a form of God for me.” he said.
Mentioning the two ropeways Kedarnath to Gaurikund and Hemkund ropeway, the Prime Minister credited the inspiration and progress to the blessings of Baba Kedarnath, Badri Vishal and Sikh Gurus. The Prime Minister said devotees all over the world will rejoice in this unprecedented initiative.
The Prime Minister prayed for the safety of Shramjeevis and other personnel involved in these projects and acknowledged their devotion in these difficult working conditions. “They are doing the work of God, you care for them, never consider them just paid workers, they are contributing to a divine project”, the Prime Minister said. Referring to his interactions with the Shramjeevis at Kedarnath, the Prime Minister said that it was a great experience when workers and engineers compared their tasks to worshipping Baba Kedar.
Recalling his appeal to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort to break free from the colonial mindset, the Prime Minister explained the need to make this appeal after 75 years of independence and underlined that mentality of slavery had shackled the nation so profoundly that some people in the country considered the work of development in the country as a crime. “The progress made in the development of the country is weighed upon a beam scale of slavery”, the Prime Minister said. He further added that for a long time, the places of worship in the country have been looked down upon. “People from across the world never stop praising these shrines”, he added. Recalling the past attempts, the Prime Minister pointed out that everyone remembers what happened during the construction of the Somnath temple and Ram temple.
“The dilapidated condition of these shrines was a clear sign of the slavery mentality”, Shri Modi said. He further added that even the paths that led to these shrines were in an extremely poor state. “The spiritual centres of India remained neglected for decades”, he continued. “And it was due to the selfishness of the previous governments.” He pointed out these people had forgotten what these spiritual centres mean to crores of Indians. The Prime Minister interjected that neither the significance of our spiritual centres was determined by their efforts nor was there any decline in the faith held by the people towards these spiritual centres. “Today, Kashi, Ujjain, Ayodhya and many more spiritual centres are reclaiming their lost pride and legacy. Kedarnath, Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib are holding the faith while connecting the services with technology”, he underlined, “From Ram temple in Ayodhya to Maa Kalika temple in Pavagadh, Gujarat to Devi Vindhyachal Corridor, India is announcing its cultural and traditional upliftment.” He further added that pilgrims will find it easy to reach these centres of faith and the services that are being introduced will make the lives of the elderly easy-going.
The Prime Minister underlined another aspect of rejuvenation of these places of faith i.e. aspect of Ease of Living of people in the hilly areas and employment opportunities for the youth of these areas. “Rail, roads, and ropeways bring employment with them and make life easy and empowered. These facilities enhance tourism and make transportation easy in the hilly area. Drones are also being planned to be deployed to improve logistics in these difficult areas”, Shri Modi added.
Praising the local products and efforts of the local self-help groups, the Prime Minister made an appeal to the people of the country. He asked the people who go for tourism in any part of the country to take out 5 percent of their travel budget to buy local products. “This will give a big push to local products and will give immense satisfaction to you too”, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister lamented the fact that the resilience of the people from hilly areas was used against them. Their hard-working nature and strength were used as an excuse to deprive them of any amenities. They were last in priority for amenities and benefits. We had to change this, the Prime Minister said. He elaborated “Earlier, the areas which were ignored as the frontiers of the country’s borders, we started working from there marking them as the beginning of prosperity. We tried to find solutions to these challenges of the mountains, which used to waste a lot of energy of the local people.” He listed initiatives like electrification of all the villages, Har Ghar Jal, connecting Panchayats with optical fiber, health and wellness centres in every village, priority to hilly areas during vaccination, free ration to poor during the pandemic as measures of furthering the Ease of Living and providing dignity to the people. The Prime Minister said that these facilities give youth new opportunities and boost tourism. “I am happy that the Double-Engine government is giving continuous financial help for the skill development of the youth to improve the facilities of homestays. The campaign to connect the youth of the border areas with the NCC is also preparing them for a bright future,” he said.
The Prime Minister remarked, “Modern connectivity is a guarantee of national defence.” He underlined that the government is taking one step after the other in this direction for the last 8 years. Highlighting the two major connectivity schemes launched a few years back, the Prime Minister gave examples of Bharatmala and Sagarmala. He informed that under Bharatmala, the border areas of the country are being connected with the best and widest highways, and with Sagarmala, the connectivity of India’s seashores is being strengthened. The Prime Minister further informed that the government has executed unprecedented expansion of border connectivity from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh in the last 8 years. “Since 2014, the Border Roads Organization has constructed about 7,000 km of new roads and built hundreds of bridges. Many important tunnels have also been completed”, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister threw light on the Parvatmala Yojana which is improving the connectivity of hilly states. He pointed out that the construction of a huge network of ropeways has begun under this scheme in Uttarakhand and Himachal. The Prime Minister emphasised the need to change the perception of the border areas just as the military establishment did. He said, “We are making efforts so that these areas have a vibrant life where development is celebrated.” The Prime Minister stated that The road that will be built from Mana to Mana Pass will benefit the region immensely. With the widening of Joshimath to Malari road, it will be very easy for common people as well as our soldiers to reach the border, he said.
Concluding the address, the Prime Minister assured Uttarakhand that hard work and dedication will always work towards fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the state. “I have come here to seek blessings from Baba Kedar and Badri Vishal to fulfil this trust”, the Prime Minister concluded.
Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Pushkar Singh Dhami, Governor of Uttarakhand, Retd. Gen Gurmit Singh, Member of Parliament, Shri Tirath Singh Rawat, Minister of Uttarakhand Government, Shri Dhan Singh Rawat and BJP State President, Shri Mahendra Bhatt were those present on the occasion.
The ropeway in Kedarnath will be around 9.7 Km in length and will connect Gaurikund to Kedarnath, thereby reducing the travel time between the two places from 6-7 hours at present to merely 30 mins. The Hemkund ropeway will connect Govindghat to Hemkund Sahib. It will be around 12.4 Km in length and will reduce the travel time from more than a day to only about 45 mins. This ropeway will also connect Ghangaria, which is the gateway to Valley of Flowers National Park.
Developed at a cumulative cost of around Rs 2430 crore, the ropeways will be an environment-friendly mode of transport making the journey safe, secure and stable. This major infrastructure development will give a boost to religious tourism, thereby providing a fillip to the economic development in the region and leading to the creation of multiple employment opportunities.
The foundation stones of road widening projects worth around Rs 1000 crore will also be laid during the visit. The two road widening projects – from Mana to Mana Pass (NH07) and from Joshimath to Malari (NH107B) – shall be another step towards providing last-mile all-weather road connectivity to our border areas. Apart from boosting connectivity, these projects will also prove beneficial from a strategic point of view as well.
Kedarnath and Badrinath are one of the most important Hindu shrines. The area is also known for one of the revered Sikh Pilgrim sites – Hemkund Sahib. The connectivity projects being undertaken show the Prime Minister’s commitment to ease access and improve basic infrastructure in places of religious significance.