Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated the first phase of the ₹615 crore ‘roll-on-roll-off’ (Ro-Ro) ferry service between Ghogha in Saurashtra and Dahej in south Gujarat.
He launched the first phase at a rally in Ghogha in the presence of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.
“This is the first of its kind project not only in India but also in South-East Asia,” Mr. Modi said at the rally which comes ahead of the Assembly polls in the State.
“This is also a unique project as the State government has used the latest technology to make this ferry service possible,” he said.
The Prime Minister had earlier termed this his “dream project.”
While speaking at a public meeting in Bhavnagar after the inauguration, Mr. Modi said, “I am happy to be in Gujarat to personally convey New Year greetings. This programme may be for a ferry between Ghogha and Dahej, but this programme is of vital importance for the entire nation.”
The Prime Minister said, “The history of human civilisation illustrates the vitality of rivers and maritime trade. Gujarat is the land of Lothal. How can we forget these aspects of our history. This programme is to bring back to life our glorious past, connect Saurashtra and South Gujarat.”
“Imagine how much time and petrol this ferry service will save. This ferry service connects Saurashtra and South Gujarat… people from these regions frequently travel to and fro,” Mr. Modi said.
“When I was serving as Chief Minister, I faced hostility from the then Central government. Efforts were made to stall industries and the State’s growth. Over the last three years we have changed that and given importance to the development of Gujarat.
“Gujarat is blessed with a long coastline and we should harness opportunities arising due to this. We took steps in developing coastal infrastructure,” said Mr. Modi.
He further reiterated “This ferry service will not be restricted to this one route. We are planning to link other places also through ferries.
“Sadly, our transport sector was not integrated enough. We have changed that in the last three years. The goal is to make our transport sector integrated and state of the art.”
Foundation stone for various projects
He is later scheduled to make a trip from Ghogha, Bhavnagar district, to Dahej, Bharuch, on the ferry. From Dahej, he will leave for Vadodara where he is slated to inaugurate and lay the foundation stone for projects worth over ₹1,140 crore.
According to Ajay Bhadoo, the chief executive officer of Gujarat Maritime Board which has executed the ro-ro project, the first phase of the service is meant for passengers.
In the second phase, which will be ready in two months, cars can also be carried between the two towns.
The service reduces the distance between the two towns from 310 km by road to 30 km, which can be covered in one hour, Bhadoo said.
Mr. Modi had laid the foundation stone for the project in January 2012, when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
The Prime Minister had earlier visited poll-bound Gujarat last Monday when he addressed his party workers at a rally in Gandhinagar.
Prior to that, on October 8, Mr. Modi visited his home town Vadnagar. He also inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of various projects in Rajkot, Vadnagar, Gandhinagar and Bharuch.