USing the analogy of surgical strikes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today wondered what would have happened if the government had adopted similar strategy in the recent campaign against black money, which unearthed Rs 65,000 crores.
“Over Rs 65,000 crore in unaccounted money was declared under the IDS, and that too without any surgical strike. Imagine what all will emerge if we initiate surgical strikes,” Modi said at a public function in Vadodara, where he arrived for a day-long visit earlier in the day.
He said that other than the money collected under the IDS, his government saved Rs 36,000 crore more by eliminating middlemen and directly transferring funds to beneficiaries by linking their Aadhar cards to the Jan Dhan Yojana.
“So, we have been able to collect roughly Rs 1,00,000 crore,” Modi added.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a function to distribute artificial limbs, tri-cycles and other assisting devices to over 10,000 ‘divyangs’ or differently-abled persons.
He said that since May 2014, more than 4,500 such events have been held across the country, compared with just 56 between 1992 and 2014.
It is Modi’s fourth visit to Gujarat in the last three months, but the first one to Vadodara since becoming Prime Minister. He won the Lok Sabha elections both from Vadodara and Varanasi seats but retained the latter. Gujarat goes to the assembly polls in December 2017.
During the daylong visit, Modi also inaugurated an integrated terminal building of Vadodara’s Harni Airport built at a cost of Rs 160 crore.
Spread over 18,120 square metres, it has a capacity to handle 700 domestic as well as international passengers per hour.
Speaking at the function, the Prime Minister said India’s aviation sector had huge growth potential vis-a-vis smaller towns, tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
“Going by an estimate, within five years, India annually will have fliers equal to the entire population of America,” he added.
Modi said his government had for the first time an integrated national aviation policy to encourage the sector that could power huge economic growth and employment opportunities.
“Earlier, there was no aviation policy at all; everything just dragged on in all directions,” he said.
“Now, we have taken up an expansion mission on public-private partnership to develop the aviation sector in a major way across the length and breadth of the country,” he said.
The Prime Minister announced that the country’s first Railway University will be set up in Vadodara to give a major technological fillip to the railways sector.
“Our railways continue to operate on the basis of old structure. With technology and innovation, we can change the face of the Railways in India. This university will play an important role towards encouraging innovation,” he said.
Meanwhile, posters of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appeared in Vadodara, crediting him for the new flashy look of the Vadodara airport.
Posters with demand to name the airport after former Vadodara (earlier named Baroda) ruler, the late Sayajirao Gaekwad, too came up in the city.
A section of Dalit leaders, meanwhile, demanded that the airport be named after Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.