Era of honesty ushered in, participatory development on a roll: Modi

Lucknow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that an era of honesty has been ushered in the country in the past few years, and people are paying more taxes and forfeiting subsidies as they are sure that every bit of their money will be used rightly.

Addressing an event to mark the third anniversary of launch of the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Prime Minister’s Aawas Yojna-Urban (PMAY-U) and the Smart City Mission, Modi said it is heartening to see that people join hands with the government in ensuring that the economy and development are fast-paced.

“People are ready to join the ‘vikas yatra’ as they are sure that the money they give as taxes will not be used to deck up private bungalows but will go for betterment of their living standards,” the Prime Minister said in an oblique reference to money splurge by former chief ministers Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav on their bungalows.

He also mocked at Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s recent remark in Parliament that the Prime Minister instead of being a self-proclaimed “chowkidar” (watchdog) of the country is a “bhaagidaar” (partner) in the wrongs.

“You must have heard a recent allegation on me that I am a ‘bhaagidaar’. Yes I am — a partner to the pains and troubles of the poor people who don’t have a roof over their head, to a worried mother who has damaged her eyes cooking on earthen ‘chulhas’ (stoves), farmers who are worried about their crops…,” he said, earning a round of applause from the gathering.

“Poverty has taught me life, I have suffered that, I have seen poverty from close quarters… Jisne bhoga hai, wahi takleef jaanta hai (Sufferers know the pain),” he said while pointing out how his opponents used to earlier taunt him for being a tea seller and question how he can occupy the chair of Prime Minister.

Before coming here, he interacted with a group of women — beneficiaries of the PMAY-U — from all over the country. “The glow on their faces reflected their dreams of a bright future”, Modi said.

He added that the fact that work have been completed on smart city projects worth Rs 7,000 crore and works worth Rs 52,000 crore are underway reflects that his government is marching ahead to change the fortunes of the cities and the people who live in them.

“The lower-middle class and middle class will benefit out of these initiatives,” Modi said.

He credited former Prime Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee with the idea of urban development that the present National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is pursuing.

“These flyovers, convention centres, roads to link 1000 villages around Lucknow … all this was the brain child of Vajpayeeji. He had made Lucknow an experimental lab of urban development,” the Prime Minister said.

“By 2022, we propose to ensure that every Indian family has a roof over their head. In the past three years, 55 lakh houses have been sanctioned in the urban areas while one crore houses have already been given to the poor in countryside.”

Batting for more power to women, the Prime Minister said he was happy to note that in the past some time, 87 lakh registries of homes have been done in the name of women.

He also patted the back of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for expediting pro-poor and development projects in the state since he took over.

“India will grow much faster than the 7.5 per cent growth rate,” the Prime Minister assured, while adding that the cities, which give 65 per cent of the revenues to the government kitty, “cannot be allowed to stay in the mess they have been for past many years”.

Modi also told officials, bureaucrats and mayors of various cities to ensure implementation of five Es — ease of living, ease of education, employment, economy and entertainment.

Lauding the people for their participatory role in the development of the nation, the PM said that on his request from the Red Fort on Independence Day to people to forfeit their LPG subsidies, 1.25 crore families have done so and 40 lakh senior citizens, who are well to do, have done away with the subsidies they got in rail reservation.

In Uttar Pradesh, he said, 46,000 persons in villages have decided to give their houses to the other needy as they have moved up the social ladder.

Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister of State for Urban Development Hardeep Puri said the government is planning urban development with an eye on accommodating 600 million in cities by 2030.

Union Home Minister and Lok Sabha MP from Lucknow Rajnath Singh said the vision of PM Modi has given a tremendous boost to many projects, which are transforming the lives of millions across the country.

Adityanath said to improve living conditions of people in the cities, the state government has banned 15-20 microns plastic bags and is mulling to completely ban disposable plastic by October 2.

“We are promoting electric vehicles, free house mission has been minimized, of the total 9.65 lakh street lights in the state, 6.35 lakh have been changed to LEDs, saving Rs 115 crore by way of power bills,” he noted.

Earlier, the Prime Minister gave away awards to performing cities. The “Smart Move Best Project” went to Pune, “Best Innovative Idea Award” to Ahmedabad and Bhopal, and Surat lapped up the “Best Performing City” award.

Through a remote control, Modi also transferred online Rs 606.58 crore as funds for building houses to 60,426 beneficiaries.