Prime Minister Narendra Modi today laid the foundation stone for the Rs 4,337-crore Bhadbhut Barrage project here which aims to stop the ingress of salinity along the Narmada river.
Modi, on the second day of his two-day visit to poll- bound Gujarat, also flagged off a new train between Udhna in Surat and Jaynagar in Bihar.
The prime minister also inaugurated various neem-related projects of the Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers Company Limited (GNFC), and said the idea of 100 per cent neem-coated urea, conceived by his government, has stopped its pilferage and helped in addressing the problem of urea shortage faced by farmers.
Addressing a public meeting, Modi said the barrage project will solve the issue of drinking water for Bharuch, and also open up new channels for fisheries.
"Thousands of bighas of land has turned infertile due to salinity of sea water, which (the land) has to be revived. We also have to provide drinking water to people. Thanks to the Gujarat government for this project. I am confident it will be completed in three years," he said.
"Coming together of river and ocean is good for fisheries. The barrage will be made using scientific methods, to stop saline water, improve drinking water and make two channels for fisheries," Modi said.
A bridge that will be constructed across the barrage, joining Dahej to Hazira, will help create twin industrial cities and reduce the distance between them, he said.
"The bridge will reduce the journey to Hazira by 20 kilometres, and help save fuel, environment and also time. Joining Hazira with Dahej will also make them twin industrial cities," he said.
Modi lauded the GNFC for its projects and said it has helped four lakh rural women who collect and sell the neem fruit and seeds.
"Bharuch GNFC has bought neem fruit and seeds and helped them earn Rs 40 crore. This is extra money, wealth from waste," he said.
The 100 per cent neem-coated urea project of the government has prevented theft of subsidised urea for use as a raw material in the chemical industry, the prime minister said.
"Earlier I used to write letters to the central government asking for more urea due to its shortage. When I became prime minister, I also used to get letters...For the last two years, not a single chief minister has written to me for urea," he said.
"Won't urea thieves conspire against me (for stopping pilferage)? But this is Modi. He has grown up on the soil of Gujarat, in the land of Gandhi and Sardar Patel," he said.
Flagging off a second 'Antyodaya train' from Udhna in Surat to Jaynagar, Modi said it will help migrants from Bihar, who work in Gujarat, to go home during Diwali and Chhat Puja.
"A hardworking person leaves his old parents back home and comes to work in Gujarat. But during festival season, he faces hardship going back home. To ensure that our friends from Bihar and UP can go back home easily, we have emphasised starting long-route rail service," he said.
Modi said his government has started Antyodaya Express and Mahamana Express, connecting Vadodara to Varanasi, to join Gujarat with Bihar.
"These trains have become a great facility for people from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh... (Mahamana Express) will help people to go on pilgrimage to Kashi Vishwanath (in Varanasi) and visit your Modi's Lok Sabha constituency," he said.
Later, winding up his visit, Modi flew back to New Delhi from the Vadodara airport.