Your Excellency Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka,
Members of the media,
I am delighted to be in Sri Lanka, in this beautiful city of Colombo.
I have eagerly looked forward to visiting one of our closest neighbours and a nation with which we share so much.
I am truly honoured by your warm welcome and friendship.
I am conscious of the significance of this visit. It is the first standalone bilateral visit to Sri Lanka by an Indian Prime Minister since 1987.
Last month, President Sirisena honoured us by making India his first foreign visit as President. I am glad to be here so soon.
This is how it should be between neighbours. We should meet regularly.
It helps us understand each other better; find solutions to mutual concerns; and, move our relationship forward.
That is what we achieved in my meetings with President Sirisena today.
Economic ties are a key pillar of our relationship.
The progress we have made reflects our shared commitment to stronger economic cooperation.
Our trade has seen impressive growth over the past decade. I am aware of your concerns about trade with India. As I said in Delhi, we will try and address them.
The agreement today on cooperation between our customs authorities is a step in that direction. It will simplify trade and reduce non-tariff barriers on both sides.
We are not just looking at addressing problems. We are also focusing on new opportunities.
Today, Lanka IOC and Ceylon Petroleum Corporation have agreed to jointly develop the Upper Tank Farm of the China Bay Installation in Trincomalee on mutually agreed terms.
A Joint Task Force will be constituted soon to work out the modalities. India stands ready to help Trincomalee become a regional petroleum hub.
I also look forward to early commencement of work on the ground in the Sampur Coal Power Project. This landmark project would meet Sri Lanka`s energy needs.
The ocean economy is a new frontier that holds enormous promise for both of us. It is a priority for our two countries. Our decision to set up a Joint Task Force on Ocean Economy is a significant step, especially because of our proximity.
People are at the heart of our relations. We have taken a number of decisions to encourage people to people contacts, improve connectivity, and increase tourism.
We will extend the facility of "Tourist Visa on Arrival - Electronic Travel Authorization” Scheme to Sri Lankan citizens from the Sinhala and Tamil New Year on 14 April 2015.
Air India will soon start direct flights between New Delhi and Colombo.
We will cooperate in developing a Ramayana Trail in Sri Lanka and a Buddhist Circuit in India.
We will organize a Festival of India in Sri Lanka later this year. Sri Lanka is where Buddhism has truly flourished. We will be organizing an exhibition showcasing our Buddhist heritage as part of this festival.
The Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in youth affairs is an important long term investment in our relationship.
India is privileged to be a development partner for Sri Lanka.
We will provide a fresh Line of Credit of up to US$ 318 million for the railways sector. This will be used to procure rolling stock, and to restore and upgrade existing railway track.
We are pleased to provide assistance for the construction of the Rabindranath Tagore auditorium at Ruhuna University in Matara.
Tomorrow, I will visit, some of the projects, being financed by India, including the housing project. I am pleased that more than 27,000 houses have already been built.
The Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka have agreed to enter into a Currency Swap Agreement of US$ 1.5 billion. This will help keep the Sri Lankan rupee stable.
We discussed the fishermen’s issue. This complex issue involves livelihood and humanitarian concerns on both sides. We should handle it from this perspective. At the same time, we need to find a long term solution to this issue.
It is also important that fishermen`s associations of India and Sri Lanka meet at the earliest to find a mutually acceptable arrangement. It can then be taken forward by both governments.
I also took this opportunity to convey our admiration for President Srinisena`s efforts to build an inclusive future for Sri Lanka.
I conveyed our sincere support and good wishes for Sri Lanka`s new journey of peace, reconciliation and progress.
We stand with you in your efforts to build a future that accommodates the aspirations of all sections of society, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, for a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka.
We believe that early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment and going beyond it would contribute to this process.
I also conveyed India`s commitment to further strengthening our partnership in advancing peace and prosperity in our region, including our common maritime neighbourhood.
I would like to once again thank President Sirisena for the warm welcome and hospitality.
The meeting today has been very productive. It gives me great confidence and optimism about the future of our relations.
Bhavnagar is emerging as a shining example of port-led development: PM Modi
September 29, 2022
The Prime Minister lays foundation stone of the World’s First CNG Terminal
PM also inaugurates the Regional Science Centre in Bhavnagar
PM inaugurates various other projects including package 7 of Sauni Yojna link 2, 25 MW Palitana Solar PV Project, APPL Container project
PM lays foundation stone of projects including package 9 of Sauni Yohna link 2, Chorvadla Zone water supply project
“In its journey of 300 years, Bhavnagar has made a steady growth and has made its mark as the cultural capital of Saurashtra”
“In the last two decades, sincere efforts have been made to make Gujarat's coastline the gateway to India's prosperity”
“Bhavnagar is emerging as a shining example of port-led development”
“Lothal is the oldest port in the world and the construction of Lothal Maritime Museum will create a new identity for the place”
“Along the lines of empowerment of farmers, credit cards were issued to fishermen”
“Supporting those who have been left behind is a commitment of the double-engine government”
“Dreams and aspirations of the poor give me the energy to work continuously”
Wishing all the people of Bhavnagar a very Happy Navratri! First of all, I have to apologize to Bhavnagar for coming here after such a long period. This has happened for the first time. I apologize as I could not come before. I would never forget the blessings you showered on me and the love you have given me. I can see such a large number of people far and wide and that too on a scorching day. I bow to all of you.
This meeting in Bhavnagar is special today. On the one hand, the country has completed 75 years of independence while Bhavnagar is going to complete 300 years of its foundation day this year. In this journey of 300 years, Bhavnagar has made a mark for its steady growth as well as being the cultural capital of Saurashtra. Several projects worth crores of rupees have been either inaugurated or foundation stone has been laid here today to give a new dimension to this development journey. These projects will empower the identity of Bhavnagar, will give a new gift of irrigation to the farmers of Saurashtra and will further strengthen the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ campaign. With the establishment of Regional Science Center, Bhavnagar's identity as a city of education and culture will be further enriched. Many congratulations to all of you for all these projects.
Brothers and sisters,
Whenever I came to Bhavnagar, I emphasized one thing. The echo, which has been there in Surat, Vadodara and Ahmedabad since the last two to three decades, is now going to resonate in Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar as well. I have strong faith in Saurashtra's prosperity because it has unprecedented potential for industry, agriculture and tourism. Today's program is a living proof of the efforts of the double engine government moving rapidly in this direction. Bhavnagar district is situated on the sea shore. Gujarat has the longest coastline in the country. But this vast coastline had become a kind of big challenge for the people due to lack of attention to coastal development for several decades after independence. The salt water of the sea was a curse for this place. The villages on the banks of the sea had become deserted. People started migrating to other cities. The youth going to Surat were forced to share one room with 10-15-20 people. It was a very pathetic situation.
We have made sincere efforts in the last two decades to make Gujarat's coastline the gateway to India's prosperity. Many new employment opportunities have been created. We developed and modernized many ports in Gujarat. Gujarat today has three major LNG terminals and petrochemical hubs. Gujarat was the first state in the country where the first LNG terminal was built. We developed hundreds of coastal industries and many small and big industries in the coastal areas of the state. We also created a network of coal terminals to meet the energy demand of the industries. Today there are many power plants in the coastal areas of Gujarat which supply power not only to Gujarat, but to several states of the country as well.
We built fishing harbours to help our fishermen, promoted fish lending centers and fish processing. The strong network of fishing harbours that we built is also continuously being expanded and modernized. We have made the coastal ecosystem more secure and strengthened by developing mangrove forests in the coastal region of Gujarat. The then minister in the Government of India had once remarked that the coastal states of India should learn from Gujarat how mangroves can be developed. It is with the cooperation of all of you that this has been made possible in Gujarat.
We also continuously promoted aquaculture. Gujarat is one of the leading states of the country where great efforts have been made for the seaweed cultivation. Today, the coastline of Gujarat has become a medium of employment for lakhs of people, besides playing a big role in the import and export of the country. Today, Gujarat's coastline is emerging as synonymous with renewable energy and the hydrogen ecosystem. We have also tried to make Saurashtra an important center of energy. This region is becoming one of the biggest hubs to meet the energy needs of Gujarat and the country. Now many projects of solar energy are also being set up in this region. The solar power project, which was inaugurated in Palitana today, will provide affordable and adequate electricity to many families in the region. There was a time in Gujarat when people used to rejoice if there was electricity during dinner time. Many of the people who are 20-22 years old today would not be aware of that situation. When I became Chief Minister of Gujarat, I remember people started pleading with me from day one to at least ensure electricity during dinner time. All those miserable days are passé now, friends.
Today, new business opportunities are being created, industries and businesses are flourishing due to sufficient electricity. Bhavnagar is also going to benefit from the investment being made in Dholera for renewable energy, space and semiconductor industries. A neighboring area of Bhavnagar is being developed and the day will not be far away when this entire region of Ahmedabad to Dholera and Bhavnagar will achieve new heights of development.
Brothers and sisters,
Today Bhavnagar is developing as an important center of port-led development. This port will ensure multimodal connectivity with different industrial regions across the country. This port will also be connected to the separate track being laid for goods trains and there will be better connectivity with other highways and railway networks. The PM GatiShakti National Master Plan is going to give a new thrust to these connectivity projects. In a way, this port of Bhavnagar will play an important role in the building of a self-reliant India and hundreds of new employment opportunities will be created here. There is going to be an expansion of business related to warehousing, transportation and logistics. The port will also cater to large projects like vehicle scrapping, container production and Dholera Special Investment Region. As a result, new employment will be created here and self-employment opportunities will be developed.
Alang is known to have one of the largest ship breaking yards in the world. There is hardly anyone who is not aware of Alang. When the new vehicle scrapping policy of the Central Government to scrap old vehicles will be implemented, I say with full confidence that you will benefit the most. The reason being Alang has the expertise regarding scrapping as well as the knowledge of scrapping big ships. In such a situation, it can also become a big center of scrapping of other small vehicles along with ships. I do not need to remind my promising entrepreneurs of Bhavnagar that they will bring small vehicles from abroad and start scrapping them here.
The iron derived from breaking ships is used extensively in the construction sector. Recently, we have seen how a major crisis can arise from over-dependence on a single country for containers. This is also a new as well as a big opportunity for Bhavnagar. On the one hand, India's share in global trade is increasing and on the other hand, the world is also looking for a reliable supplier of containers. The whole world needs millions of containers. The containers being built in Bhavnagar will also give energy to self-reliant India and will also create many employment opportunities here.
When there is a sense of service towards the people in the mind and there is a will to bring change, then it is possible to achieve bigger goals. You are very much aware of the condition of vehicles from Surat to Bhavnagar. Hours of travel, road accidents and above all the cost of petrol and diesel! There were so many difficulties. Now there is less tension and there is saving of both time and money on transport fares. We fulfilled the dream of the Ghogha-Dahej ferry service despite so many hurdles. The distance between Saurashtra and Surat has been reduced from about 400 kms to less than 100 kms due to Ghogha-Hazira Ro-Ro ferry service. About three lakh passengers have used this service in a very short time. More than 80,000 vehicles have been transported and more than 40 lakh liters of petrol and diesel have been saved this year alone. In other words, you saved a lot of money. From today onwards, the way has been cleared for even big ships on this route.
You can understand this great service for the common people, farmers and traders of this region. But all these things are happening without any hue and cry and without wasting money on massive advertisements, friends. It is because our motivation and goal has never been the temptation for power. We always consider power as a medium of service. This is our yagna of service. It is because of this spirit of service that we are getting so much love and blessings which keep on increasing continuously.
Our efforts have not only facilitated transportation, but tourism has also got a boost. Unprecedented work is being done in the coastal areas of Gujarat to save its maritime heritage and make it a tourism destination. Probably, very few of you would be aware that the Maritime Museum being built in Lothal is going to create a name for itself in the world. Like the Statue of Unity, Lothal's Maritime Museum will also create the same identity. It is a matter of pride for us. The world's oldest port Lothal is on our Gujarat soil, it is on the edge of our Bhavnagar. Lothal has been an important center of our heritage and efforts are being made to bring it on the tourism map of the whole world. Along with Lothal, the eco-tourism circuit in Velavadar National Park is also going to benefit Bhavnagar, especially the small businessmen and traders.
Brothers and sisters,
The lives of both farmers and fishermen in Saurashtra have changed a lot in the last two decades. There was a time when fishermen's lives were often in danger due to lack of information. When I was the Chief Minister here, the fishermen were given a red basket with different buttons on it. In the event of an accident, an alert was sent directly to the Coast Guard's office by pressing the button resulting in immediate help. We have extended this service to the entire country after 2014. We gave subsidies to fishermen to modernize their boats and gave Kisan Credit Cards to fishermen like farmers.
Today, I feel very satisfied when I see the change taking place due to Sauni Yojana. I remember launching the project in Rajkot. The media wrote that Modi ji had announced the project in view of the impending elections. Once elections are over, it will be forgotten. But I proved everyone wrong. Today the waters of the Mother Narmada are reaching everywhere we promised due to the Sauni Yojana. We are the people who live up to our words and who live for the society.
When one part of the Sauni project is inaugurated, then the work on the other part begins simultaneously. We don't let the work stop. Even today, the part of the project which has been dedicated has led to water reaching many dams of Bhavnagar and Amreli districts. This is going to benefit the farmers of many villages of Gariadhar, Jesar and Mahuva talukas of Bhavnagar and Rajula and Khambha talukas of Amreli district. Another project has been renewed today to supply water to hundreds of villages and dozens of cities in Bhavnagar, Gir Somnath, Amreli, Botad, Junagadh, Rajkot and Porbandar districts.
Brothers and sisters,
It is the commitment of the double engine government to remove poverty and take forward those who have been left behind in development. When the poorest of the poor get resources, they start changing their fortunes. They work hard day and night and defeat poverty. We often used to organize Garib Kalyan Melas in Gujarat. During one such program, I had given a three wheeler cycle to a sister here in Bhavnagar. She was a Divyang and what did she tell me? Look at the spirit of the people of Bhavnagar and Gujaratis. I remember it vividly. That sister said that she did not know how to ride a bicycle and asked for an electric tricycle. This is the mood of my Gujarat and Bhavnagar. The trust that my sister had in her mind is my biggest asset, brothers. These dreams and aspirations of the poor give me the energy to work continuously. May this energy continue with your blessings, and your love continues to grow. And I must say today that it took me a few years to come here, I came late, but I have not come empty handed. I have come with all the outstanding dues of the previous years. And anyway, Bhavnagar has all the rights over me. One is reminded of Narseebaba’s ‘Ganthiya’ and ‘pedas’ of Das. While talking about ‘Ganthiya’, I am reminded of Harisingh Dada. Several years ago, when I was not active in politics and used to be a very small-time activist, it was Harisingh Dada who introduced me to ‘Ganthiya’. Whenever he would come to Ahmedabad, he would bring ‘Ganthiya’ for me. He used to care for me. Now that I am in Bhavnagar today, it is of no use today as the Navratri fasts are underway. But, the ‘Ganthiya’ of Bhavnagar is famous in the country and the world. It is not a small matter, friends. This is the strength of Bhavnagar. Friends, today I have come with many development projects. These projects will decide the future of the younger generation of Bhavnagar. These projects will brighten the future of Bhavnagar. No one will be able to imagine that these projects will usher in rapid development of Bhavnagar. These projects will benefit Saurashtra, Gujarat and the entire country. Brothers and sisters, I am deeply grateful to you for the love and blessings you have showered on me by coming in such huge numbers. Raise your both hands and speak with me with all your might: