Sisters and brothers of Kerala,
I feel blessed to be visiting God’s own country.In Kollam, on the banks of the Ashtamudilake, I sense recovery from the floods of last year. But we have to work harder to rebuild Kerala.
I congratulate you for completion of this bypass, which will make life easier for the people. Ease of living for the people is the commitment of my government. We believe in sabkasaath, sabkavikas. With this commitment, my government gave the final sanction to this project in January 2015. I am happy that with contribution and co-operation of state government, we have completed the project in an effective manner. Since May 2014, when my Government took over, we have given top priority to develop infrastructure in Kerala. Under Bharatmala a detailed project report for Mumbai Kanyakumari Corridor is under preparation. Many such projects are in various such stages of development.
In our country, we have often seen that infrastructure projects get stalled after announcement for various reasons. A lot of public money is wasted due to cost and time over-runs. We decided that this culture of wastage of public money cannot continue. Through PRAGATI, we are accelerating projects and overcoming this problem.
On the last Wednesday of every month, I sit with all secretaries of government of India and chief secretaries of state governments and review such delayed projects.
I was surprised to see that some projects are 20 to 30 years old and are hugely delayed. It is a crime to deprive the common man of the benefits of a project or a scheme for such a long time. Till now, I have reviewed more than 250 projects worth about 12 lakh crore rupees under PRAGATI.
Friends, Atal ji believed in the power of connectivity and we are taking his vision forward. From national highways to rural roads, pace of construction has almost doubled as compared to the previous government.
When we formed government, only 56% of rural habitations were connected by a road. Today more than 90% of rural habitations are connected by a road. I am sure that we will definitely achieve the target of 100% soon.
As in road sector my government has given priority to railways, waterways and airways. National waterway from Varanasi to Haldia has already started. It will ensure a clean mode of transportation and will preserve the environment for future generations. Regional air connectivity has also improved immensely in last four years. The rate of doubling electrification and laying of new tracks has shown big improvement. All this is also leading to increase in job creation.
When we construct roads and bridges, we do not only connect towns and villages. We also connect aspirations with achievements, optimism with opportunities and hope with happiness.
My commitment is for the development of each of my countrymen. The last man in the queue is my priority. My government has sanctioned a new fund of 7,5 00 crore rupees for the fisheries sector.
Under Ayushman Bharat, we are providing cashless health assurance to the tune of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year, for the poor. More than 8 lakh patients have taken benefit of this scheme so far. The government has sanctioned more than 1,100 crores rupees till now. I request the Government of Kerala to expedite the implementation of this scheme, so that the people of Kerala can take advantage of it.
Tourism is the hallmark of Kerala’s economic development and a principal contributor to the State’s economy. My government has worked hard in tourism sector and results are outstanding. India has been ranked at third place in the new Power Ranking in the 2018 report of the World Travel & Tourism Council. This is a major development that augurs well for the entire tourism sector in the country.
India’s ranking in the Travel and Tourism Competitive Index of the World Economic Forum moved from 65th position to 40th position.
Foreign tourist arrivals in India went up from around 70 lakh in 2013 to about 1 crore in 2017. That is a 42% increase!The foreign exchange earned by India due to tourism went up from 18 billion dollars in 2013 to 27 billion dollars in 2017! This is a jump of 50%!In fact, India was among one of the highest growing tourist destinations in the world in 2017. It had a growth of 14% over 2016, while the world grew at an average of 7% in the same year.
Introduction of the e-Visa has been a game changer for Indian Tourism. This facility is now available to nationals of 166 countries worldwide.
My government has initiated two flagship programmes to create basic infrastructure around tourist, heritage and religious destinations - Swadesh Darshan: Integrated Development of Theme-Based Tourist Circuits and PRASAD.
Recognizing the tourism potential of Kerala we have sanctioned 7 projects in the State under the Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD schemes for an approximate amount of Rs. 550 crore.
Later today, I will inaugurate one such project at Sree Padmanabhaswamy
Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.I will also seek blessings from Lord Padmanabhaswamy for the welfare of people of Kerala and other parts of the country.
I have heard of the phrase “Kollam kandalillamvenda” which means once in Kollam, one never misses home. I also share the same feeling.
I thank people of Kollam and Kerala for their love and affection. I pray for a developed and strong Kerala.