Reported by Malay Ray
Rourkela, Apr 1:
On his maiden visit to Odisha after becoming Prime Minister, Narendra Modi today made all the right noises and struck the right chords, harping on the theme of federalism and announcing a slew of sops for the Steel City.
In keeping with the Nabakalebara flavour of the season, the Prime Minister began and ended his speech at the airport ground with an invocation to Lord Jagannath and the crowd repsonded enthusiastically chanting ‘Jai Jagannath’ with him.
Not one to miss out on the import of the occasion on a day that is being celebrated as Utkal Divas all over the state, Modi began his speech with a few lines in Odia that sounded much more convincing than the laboured, read-from-the-text speech delivered by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik before him.
“Utkal Ddivasara ehi aitihasika diabsare sabu bhai o bhauni mananku mora abhinandan,” he began and then followed it up with a tribute to all the great men who contributed to the making of Odisha as a separate state. “Ajira e pabitra dinare Utkal mani Gopabandhu Das, Utkal Gaurav Madhusudan Das, Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati Dev, Birsa Munda and Biju Babunku mora binamra pranam,” he said.
“I wholeheartedly welcome the people of Odisha. Hindustan is proud of Odisha as the Sun temple gives light to all parts of the country,” Modi said. “I had come here on 4th April last year before the election. Within one year I have again come to Rourkela. During my visit on 4th April last year, I had come here to see your dreams. Now that you have made me Prime Minister, the time has come to give you a detailed account of the work done during this one year period,” he added.
Reiterating his faith in the principles of federalism, Modi said he had tried to give more power and resources to the states since the day he became Prime Minister about 10 months ago. The increase in the Finance Commission award to Odisha from Rs 18, 000 crores to Rs 25, 000 crores is part of this desire to allocate more resources to states, he said.
“As Chief Minister of Gujarat, I understand the problems Chief Ministers face when dealing with the Centre. That is why I have made a conscious effort since day one to give the states a greater say in running their affairs,” the Prime Minister citing the decision to pass on the entire royalty on minerals to the states to buttress his point.
Citing the ongoing auction of coal blocks, the Prime Minister said; “There were no returns on coal earlier. But we have converted coal to gold through its auction. Rs 2 lakh crores has already come to the coffers of the Union government through the auction of just 20 out of the 204 coal blocks. The amount generated through auction will go to concerned states and that can be invested in the progress of the state.”
Signalling the new-found bonhomie with the BJD government in the state, the Prime Minister thanked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for his support on the MMDR Bill.
“It is not enough if one part of the country is progressing. It is important that all the regions progress together. That is why we have accorded priority to the development of the Eastern region. I am sure Odisha will progress rapidly in the days to come,” he said.
Striking a chord with the people of the Steel City, Modi said; ” “Rourkela is a mini India. Whatever happens here, Hindustan knows and whatever happens in Hindustan, Rourkela people know.”
The Prime Minister announced that the Ispat General Hospital (IGH) in Rourkela will be converted into a Super Specialty Medical College. “No one should feel that there are already numerous good hospitals and the hospital would remain empty for all tweleve months of the year,” he added jokingly.
He also announced that a second bridge will be constructed on River Brahmani, which has been a long-standing demand of the people of Rourkela.
Harping on the importance of steel making in the country’s progress, the Prime Minister said; “We are ahead of USA in steel making, but China is ahead of us. But I assure you that we will spare noo efforts to overtake China in steel making.”
“Trading of raw material and mineral may provide livelihood to one family but it won’t help in progress of country,” he said the need for value addition within the country.
In his address, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik invoked Biju Patnaik who he said had great dreams for Rourkela. “Biju babu was always dreaming for the betterment of Rourkela. We are trying to fulfill his dreams. We have already given corporation status to Rourkela. Today, we have already launched the ‘Aahaar’ scheme here,” he said.
Assuring all support to the RSP, Union Minister for Steel & Mines Narendra Singh Tomar said Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) is well on course to meet its production target if 50 million tonnes by 2020.
Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram welcomed Prime Minister saying; “I am speechless. I cannot believe that Prime Minister has landed here.He also welcomed and thanked Chief Minister, Governor and other ministers MLAs and Rajya Sabha MP Dilip Tirkey.
Thereafter, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik welcomed Prime Minister and other persons on dias and said “I am thankful that Prime Minister has come here and has dedicated the RSP modernisation and expansion work to the nation on this auspicious day.”
Governor S.C.Jamir, Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of State for PEtroleum & Natural Gas, Vishnu Deo Sai, Union Minister of State for Steel & Mines, Prafulla Mallick, Labour Minister, Odisha, Rakesh Singh, Steel Secretary, Dilip Tirkey, Member, Rajya Sabha, Dilip Ray, Rourkela MLA, Subrat Tarai, MLA, Raghunathpalli and C.S.Verma, Chairman, SAIL shared the dais with the Prime Minister.
Earlier, the Prime Minister was given a warm welcome on his arrival at theRourkela airstrip at 11.30 am. Immediately after his arrival, the Prime Minister went to theRSP where he dedicated the new and modernised plant atRSP to the nation which has been completed with an investment of Rs 12,000 crore after which the capacity of the plant has gone up from 2MTPA to 4.5 MTPA.Modi then presented the Prime Minister’s trophy to Tata Steel for the year 2010-11, Bhilai Steel Plant for the year 2011-12, JSW and Vijaynagar for the year 2012-13.
Earlier in the day, at around 10 am, after arriving at Rourkela Airstrip, Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister, was given a warm welcome by BJD leaders and workers, he was then driven to Rourkela Govt.hospital, where he launched the ‘Aahaar’ scheme and thereafter attended a blood donation camp.