Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised the Uttar Pradesh government for its handling of the Covid crisis and said the way it had controlled the second wave of the infection was "unprecedented".
The prime minister, who arrived at his parliamentary constituency in the morning, also appreciated the Yogi Adiyanath-led government for working with a development oriented approach rather than one based on corruption and nepotism, and bringing in rule of law in the state.
The prime minister inaugurated and laid the foundation stones of multiple development projects worth more than Rs 1,500 crore at the IIT-BHU ground.
Later, he inaugurated the International Cooperation and Convention Centre-Rudraksh, constructed with the Japanese assistance.
Describing the efforts of the government in combating COVID-19 as "commendable", the prime minister said Uttar Pradesh's population is more than a dozen big countries but the way “it has controlled the second wave of coronavirus and stopped its spread is unprecedented".
Earlier, even minor problems assumed monstrous proportions due to the shortage of health facilities and the lack of willpower, he said.
The people of Uttar Pradesh, the prime minister said, had seen an era when there were problems in tackling diseases such as encephalitis.
"And this (Covid) is the biggest problem the world is facing in 100 years. It is the biggest pandemic, and hence efforts made by Uttar Pradesh to tackle the corona are commendable."
Modi, who is on a one-day visit to the city, said the last few months had been very difficult for humanity.
"But Kashi along with UP faced such a big problem with full strength. Even during difficult times, Kashi has shown it does not stop, nor does it get tired."
The state government also came in for praise for the law and order situation.
"There is rule of law in UP today. Mafiaraj and terrorism, which were once out of control, are now controlled by law. Criminals who dare to eye sisters and daughters know they will not be spared," Modi said.
"Another important thing the government today is not run through corruption and nepotism ('bhrashtarchar aur bhai bhatijawaad') but through development ('vikasvaad'). Therefore, in UP, the benefits of schemes are reaching people and new investments and opportunities of employment are increasing," he added.
Stressing that Kashi is emerging as a major medical hub for “Purvanchal” (eastern region), he said medical treatment for which people had to go to Delhi and Mumbai earlier is now available in Varanasi .
Speaking on development works in Kashi in the past seven years, he said it is marching ahead on the development path while maintaining its original identity.
He also referred to the help extended to the "naviks" (boatmen), saying their diesel boats are being converted into CNG ones, which are environment friendly.
”In this region, projects worth Rs 8,000 crore are on,” he said.
The prime minister said UP is also emerging as a leading investment destination in the country.
The main reason for it is the Yogi government's focus on infrastructure, he said, referring to ongoing expressway projects.
Mentioning the recent Union government decision of setting up a special fund of Rs 1 lakh crore for improving agriculture infrastructure, he said it will prove to be a step towards making the mandi system modern and well equipped.
”Improving the system connected with government procurement and providing many more opportunities to farmers is a priority of the government and the record purchase of wheat and rice this year is its result,” he said.
Citing development works in UP, Modi said, “It is not as if there was a lack of funds or scheme before 2017 but hurdles were created in Lucknow in the efforts made by Delhi after 2014. Today, Yogiji is himself working hard and personally reviewing all development schemes."
Later, after inaugurating the Rudraksh convention centre, Modi said though Kashi had world renowned litterateurs and artistes, it did not have world-class facilities to showcase their talent and the centre will provide them a modern stage.
Modi also called Japan a trustworthy friend and praised his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga for the project.
Modi also recalled former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe for his contribution to it.
"Today, in this programme, I cannot forget to take the name of one person…my friend from Japan Shinzo Abe. I remember that when Shinzo Abe came to Kashi as prime minister, there was a long discussion on the idea of Rudraksh.”
“He immediately asked his officials to work on this idea. After this, the work started with perfection and planning--the speciality of Japan. And today, this magnificent building is enhancing the beauty of Kashi," the PM said.
Earlier, Modi inaugurated projects worth around Rs 744 crore. He also laid the foundation stones of projects and public works worth about Rs 839 crore. These include the Centre for Skill and Technical Support of Central Institute of Petrochemical Engineering and Technology and 143 rural projects under the Jal Jeevan Mission.
Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, the chief minister and several state ministers were also present on the occasion.