PM Modi’s pre-poll ‘dream projects’ for Gujarat turn out to be a pipedream

Even as schemes to attract tourists to Ahmedabad and Statue of Unity are in a state of limbo, govt has approved an expenditure of Rs 850 crore to extend a stretch of Sabarmati Riverfront by 11 kms

PM Modi’s pre-poll ‘dream projects’ for Gujarat turn out to be a pipedream
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Nachiketa Desai

Even as the Gujarat government announced that it would spend Rs 850 crore to extend Sabarmati Riverfront by 11 kms, all his much trumpeted pre-poll announcements – a seaplane, a floating restaurant and a cruise on the Sabarmati river that flows along Ahmedabad – have unravelled within a month of the conclusion of civic and panchayat elections.

These had been touted as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘dream project’.

Modi had flown on a seaplane from Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati river to the Statue of Unity on the Narmada river on October 31 last year and announced an ambitious plan to launch a nation-wide network of seaplane services to various tourist and pilgrimage destinations.

However, the only flight between Sabarmati and Narmada rivers was discontinued after less than a dozen sorties following the inaugural flight, which carried Modi as the sole passenger.

This was because the two seaplanes imported by the government needed repairs and maintenance.

The same fate befell the special trains that were introduced on the railway tracks laid hurriedly between Vadodara and Kevadia colony to take tourists from different parts of the country to visit the Statue of Unity on the Narmada river.

The promised floating restaurant on the Sabarmati river and cruise ships on both the Sabarmati and Narmada rivers too proved to be non-starters.

The Gujarat government has blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for the closing down of the seaplane service and the cruise ships and has announced that the seaplane service would be resumed sometime in October.

Another much-publicised ‘Ro-Ro ferry service’ between Dahej in south Gujarat and Ghogha in the Saurashtra region, which PM Modi claimed to be the first in the country – notwithstanding the fact that such roll in-roll out ferry service have existed for more than half a century ago not only in Kerala but also in Odisha and Bihar – has stopped operating.

Even as the hurriedly introduced schemes for attracting tourists to Ahmedabad and the Statue of Unity are in a state of limbo, the government last week approved an expenditure of Rs 850 crore to extend a stretch of Sabarmati Riverfront by 11 kms on both the eastern and western banks of the river. The government also announced plans to set up a biodiversity park on the riverfront.

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