VARANASI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated 17 projects in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi and 'digitally' laid the foundation stone of six other projects.
On his two-day visit to the temple town, Modi also flagged off the Vadodara-Varanasi weekly express, which is equipped with LED screens and new, environment friendly toilets.
The Prime Minister also launched the service of four water ambulances and four hearse carrying boats. He inaugurated the Trade Facilitation Centre, named after BJP ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and two bridges in the city which had been hanging fire for several years.
In his address, the Prime Minister said these bridges would not only enable easy commuting for people but also spur economic activity.
He thanked UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for fast-tracking development projects in the parliamentary constituency.
"Yogi had pledged to take up developmental projects and he is already pushing them," he said as the crowd cheered him.
He also exhorted the auto-drivers and taxi-drivers of the city to bring foreign tourists to the weavers centre where work by the artisans is being showcased.
"If this happens, they will not only buy a lot of things from here but would also take home an indelible impression about the power of Kashi," the Prime Minister said.
Taking a dig at previous governments in the state, he said they seemed to have an antipathy for development. They were only busy splurging public money for electoral benefits, he added.
He also pointed out that the poor were now aspiring to give their next generations a better future and assured that the state government was with them in empowering them for this.
Referring to the inauguration of water ambulances and the hearse carrying boats, the Prime Minister said this was being done for better utilisation of the mode of transport that the rivers offer as well as to tackle the traffic congestion problem in Varanasi.
The Prime Minister narrated how he had contested from Varanasi and Vadodara both during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and how he resigned from the Gujarat seat and retained Varanasi for he wanted to offer his services for its development.
Referring to the inaugural run of the Mahamana Express between Varanasi-Vadodara, Modi said it was a pleasant coincidence that both the cities were being linked by this train.
He lauded Adityanath for the work he has done in the past six months.
Speaking on the occasion, Union Textiles Minister Smriti Zubin Irani informed that the foundation stone of the Rs 300 crore centre was laid in November 2014 and the first phase was completed in December 2016. The second and final phase was being inaugurated on Friday.
She said that for education of one family member of a weaver or an artisan, the National Open School and University was offering courses with 75 per cent of the fee waived off.
She disclosed that in the past three months, Rs 170 crore loans had been disbursed by the Mudra Bank to more than 33,000 weavers.
The UP Chief Minister in his address welcomed the Prime Minister on behalf of the people of the state and said that Varanasi was fortunate to have a "progressive person like Modi" as its representative in parliament.