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PM’s address at the launch of infrastructure projects in Bihar

Governor of Bihar, Shri Phagu Chauhan ji, Chief Minister of Bihar, Shri Nitish Kumar ji, my cabinet colleagues, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad ji, Shri V.K. Singh Ji, Shri R.K. Singh ji, Bihar’s Deputy CM Sushil ji, other ministers, MPs and MLAs and my dear brothers and sisters!

Today is another important day in the development journey of Bihar. A short while ago, the foundation stones of nine projects have been laid to increase connectivity in Bihar. These projects include the construction of 4 lanes and 6 lanes of the highway as well as 3 mega bridges over the rivers. Heartiest congratulations to the people of Bihar for these projects.

Friends,

This day is important not only for Bihar, but also for the whole country. It is also a big day for young India. Today, India is taking major strides to make its villages the mainstay of Atmanirbhar Bharat. And I am glad that even though the programme is for the entire country but is starting today from Bihar. Under this scheme, 6 lakh villages of the country will be connected with optical fibre in 1000 days. I am confident that under Nitishji’s good governance, moving ahead with firm determination, this scheme will also be expedited in Bihar.

Friends,

Till a few years back, it was difficult to imagine that the number of people using Internet in the villages of India will be more than that of the urban people. Many even doubted that the women in the villages, farmers and the youth of the villages would also be able to use the internet so easily. But now all these scenarios have changed. Today, India is among the world’s leading countries in terms of digital transactions. If you look at the figures of August, about 3 lakh crore rupees have been transacted during this period through mobile phones and UPI. During the Corona pandemic, the Digital India campaign has helped common people of the country a lot.

Friends,

With the increase of internet usage, now it is indispensable for the villages of the country to have good quality, high speed internet. Due to the efforts of the government, optical fibre has already reached nearly 1.5 lakh panchayats in the country. Moreover, over 3 lakh common service centres have also been added online in the last 6 years. Now the country is moving forward with the goal of extending this connectivity to every village in the country. When fast internet will reach every village, it will be easy for the students in the villages to study. The children of the villages, our rural youth will also be able to easily access the world’s books and technology just by clicking a mouse. Furthermore, through tele-medicine it will now be possible to provide affordable and effective treatment to the poor even in the remotest villages.

You are well aware that earlier if we had to make railway reservations, we had to go to cities from the villages, stand in long queues and then get our tickets booked. Today, you can get the railway reservation done in your own villages just by going to the common service centres. If you want to go somewhere, then you can get that reservation done easily because there is internet facility. Our farmers will benefit greatly from the same. With this, farmers will be able to get information about every modern technology related to farming – new crops, new seeds, new methods and changing weather in real time. Moreover, they will also be able to sell their produce anywhere in the country and the world. In a way, the necessary infrastructure is being developed to ensure that the people of the village now get all the facilities sitting at home just like the cities.

Friends,

History is witness to the fact that those countries which have invested seriously on the infrastructure have made the fastest progress worldwide. But for decades, such projects that could bring about major changes in infrastructure were not given enough attention in India. Bihar has been the greatest sufferer. Friends, it was Atal ji’s government that had first made infrastructure the mainstay of politics and development plans. Nitish ji was then the railway minister in his government. He has much more experience of the same. He has seen that change in governance more closely.

Friends,

The scale and speed at which the infrastructure work is now being done is unprecedented. Today, highways are being constructed at twice the speed than prior to 2014. The expenditure on highway construction has also been increased about 5 times compared to before 2014. A target has been set to spend more than Rs 110 lakh crore on infrastructure in the coming 4-5 years. Of this, projects worth more than Rs 19 lakh crore are related to the highways.

Friends,

Bihar is also benefitting from these efforts to expand road and connectivity related infrastructure as I have special focus on Eastern India. Under the PM package announced in 2015, more than 3 thousand kilometres of national highway projects were announced. Besides, under the Bharatmala Project, about 650 km of national highway is also being constructed. Today, the work on the national highway grid is being expedited in Bihar. Four projects of four-lane to connect eastern and western Bihar and 6 projects to connect northern India with south India are in progress. The foundation stones that have been laid for highway widening projects today will strengthen the connectivity of all the major cities of Bihar.

Friends,

Bihar had to face the biggest obstacles in terms of connectivity due to major rivers. This is the reason why special attention was given to the construction of bridges when the PM package was announced. A total of 17 bridges are being built over Gangaji under the PM package. And a short while ago Sushil ji placed in front of you a blueprint in detail, most of which has been completed. Similarly, bridges are being constructed over the Gandak and Kosi rivers. In line with this, the foundation stone of 3 new four-lane bridges has been laid today. Of these, two bridges are to be built over Ganga ji and one bridge over Kosi river. After the construction of these bridges, the capacity of the four lane bridges over the Ganges and Kosi river will increase further.

Friends,

We have seen the poor condition of the Mahatma Gandhi Setu, known as the lifeline of Bihar but today it is offering services in a new form and look. But in view of the increasing population and future needs, a new four-lane bridge is now being built parallel to the Mahatma Gandhi Setu. The new bridge will also be accompanied by an 8-lane approach road. Similarly, Bihar’s connectivity will improve with the new bridge being built parallel to the Vikramshila Setu on the Ganges River and the bridge on the Kosi River.

Friends,

Connectivity is a subject that has to be thought about in its entirety rather than in silos. A bridge is built here, a road there, a rail route is here and a railway station is built there – such an approach has done a lot of damage to the country. Earlier, the roads and the highways had no connection with the rail network. Similarly, the rail had no connectivity with the port and the port had no connectivity with the airport. 21st century India and the 21st century Bihar are now moving ahead leaving all these shortcomings behind. Today, multi-modal connectivity is being emphasized in the country. Now highways are being constructed in such a way that they support the rail route and the air route. Rail routes are being constructed in such a way that they are inter-connected with the port. That is, the idea is to ensure that one means of transport supports another means of transport. With this, the problems in India related to logistics will also be overcome to a great extent.

Friends,

The weakest section of the society, the poor benefits the most from the development of the infrastructure. Our farmers also benefit a lot from this. Due to good roads available to the farmers and the construction of bridges over the rivers, the distance between fields and markets in cities is reduced to a great extent. Friends, the Parliament of the country yesterday passed historic laws giving new rights to the farmers of the country. Today, while talking to the people of Bihar, I congratulate the farmers of the country as well as all those who are aspiring for a brighter future of India. These reforms are the need of 21st century India.

Friends,

The laws and the system of production and sale of produce in our country till now had tied the hands and feet of the farmers. Under the guise of these laws, such powerful lobby was born in the country that was taking advantage of the helplessness of the farmers. After all, how long could this go on? Therefore, it was necessary to change this system and our government brought these changes. New agricultural reforms have given the freedom to every farmer of the country to sell his crops, fruits and vegetables to anyone, anywhere. Now he has got many more options besides the Mandi of his area. Now if he gets more profit in the Mandis, then he will go to the Mandi and sell his crops. If he gets more money elsewhere, then he will go there and sell. Now he is free from any kind of compulsion. Now the question is, what difference will it make? How will the farmer benefit from this? How will this decision prove to be helpful in changing the economic condition of farmers? The answer to these questions is also being obtained from ground reports.

Many benefits of this new freedom to the farmers are already visible. As the ordinance was promulgated a few months ago, there are reports from potato-growing areas that during June-July, bulk buyers bought potatoes directly from cold storage by giving higher prices to the farmers. As the farmers got a higher price for potatoes outside, the farmers who had gone to the mandis to sell their potatoes too got higher prices, due to the pressure of higher market price outside. Similarly, there are reports from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan that the oil mills there have purchased mustard by giving 20 to 30 per cent more directly to the farmers. In states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, pulses are produced in abundance. In these states, farmers have directly received 15 to 25 per cent higher prices compared to last year. Pulse mills there too have purchased directly from the farmers and have paid directly to them.

Now the nation can guess why suddenly some people have started feeling uneasy. In many places, the question is also being raised that what will happen to agricultural mandis now? Will the agricultural mandis be closed, will the purchase stop there? No, this will not happen at all. And I want to make it clear here that these laws, these changes are not against the agricultural mandis. The agricultural markets would function like before. Rather it is the NDA government which has continuously worked to modernize the agricultural mandis of the country. A huge campaign has been going on in the country for the last 5-6 years to fix the offices of agricultural mandis and to get them computerized. Therefore, whoever says that after the new agricultural reforms, the agricultural mandis will end, then that person is lying to the farmers.

Friends,

There is a very old saying that there is strength in unity. The second law related to agricultural reform is inspired by this. Today we have more than 85 per cent farmers who have very little land, some have one acre, some two acres, some have one hectare, some two hectares. They all are small farmers. They make a living by cultivating smaller area. Due to this, their expenses also increase and they do not get the right price even if they sell some of their produces. But when such farmers of a region do the same thing by forming a group, then their cost is also reduced and the right price is also ensured. Buyers from outside can negotiate with these farmers’ groups and buy their produce directly. In such a situation, a second law has been enacted to protect the interests of the farmers. This is a unique law where there will be no bondage on the farmer. It will ensure the security of the farmer’s farm and the security of the ownership of his land. The responsibility of buying good quality seeds, manure etc for the farmer will be upon the contractor i.e. the buyer of the final produce.

Friends,

These reforms will increase investment in agriculture and farmers will get modern technology. Moreover, the farmers’ produce will easily reach the international market. I am told that here in Bihar recently 5 agricultural producers associations have entered into an agreement with a very famous rice selling company. Under this agreement, the company will buy 4000 tonnes of paddy from these FPOs in Bihar. Now the farmers associated with these FPOs will not have to go to the Mandis. Their produce will now directly reach the national and international markets. It is clear that after these reforms, a path will be opened for many small and big industries related to farming and the country will move towards rural industries. Let me give you another example. Suppose a young person wants to open a start-up in the agricultural sector. He wants to open a chips factory. Till now, one had to go to mandi and buy potatoes, only then he could start his work. But now that young man, with new dreams, will be able to go directly to the village farmer and make an agreement for potatoes. He will tell the farmer about the quality and quantity of potatoes. He will also provide all kinds of technical assistance to the farmer in producing good quality potatoes.

Friends,

There is another aspect of such agreements. You must have noticed that where there is a dairy, it is easy for the nearby cattle herders to sell milk; the dairies take care of the cattlemen and their animals. The animals should be vaccinated at the right time, the sheds should be prepared for them and the animals must get a good diet. If the animals fall ill, then the doctors arrive at the right time. And I have been in Gujarat. I have seen how dairy handles the animals. Large dairies go and help the milk producers and farmers. And even after all this it is important that although the milk is purchased by the dairies, the cattle herders or farmers remain the owners of the livestock. No one else becomes the owner of the animal. Similarly, the farmer will remain the owner of the land. Similar reforms can now take place in the farm sector.

Friends,

It has also been well known that some provisions of the Essential Commodities Act have always come in the way of our friends in agricultural business. It has also been amended in the changing times. Items like pulses, potatoes, edible oil, onions have now been excluded from the purview of this Act. Now the farmers of the country will be able to easily store them in cold storage in big storehouses. When the legal problems related to storage are removed, then the network of cold storage will also develop and expand in our country.

Friends,

After these historic reforms in the agricultural sector, and the system, some people are feeling that everything is going out of their control. So now these people are trying to mislead the farmers on MSP. These are the same people who kept sitting on the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee on MSP without implementing them. I assure every farmer of the country that the MSP system will continue to operate as before. Similarly, the way government procurement has been going on in every season, will continue to function as before.

Friends,

The work done by our government related to MSP for the farmers and government procurement has never been done before. You can clearly see who is speaking the truth and who is working for the welfare of the farmers if you look at the number of government purchases made in the last 5 years and compare with the government purchases made in the 5 years prior to 2014. You can find the proof from there. The government procurement of pulses and oilseeds has been almost 24 times more than before. During the Corona period this year, record purchases of wheat have been made from the farmers during the Rabi season. This year, farmers have been given Rs 1 lakh 13 thousand crore at MSP for rabi crops including wheat, paddy, pulses and oilseeds. This figure also is 30 per cent more than the previous year. That is, during the Corona period, not only the record government purchases were made but also the record payments were made to the farmers.

Friends,

It is the responsibility of 21st century India to create new systems for the farmers of the country with modern ideas. Our efforts will continue unabated to make the country’s farmers self-reliant. And of course connectivity plays a major role in it. Finally, once again, I congratulate Bihar and the entire country for all the projects related to connectivity. And I will once again insist that we have to keep fighting against the coronavirus. We have to defeat Corona. We have to protect our family members from Corona and we have to follow all the rules that have been set for the same. If we leave out even a single rule, then it becomes dangerous. We all have to follow it. I once again thank my dear brothers and sisters of Bihar! Namaskar!