Readies for PM Visit: Virtual bandh in Vadodara as all roads lead to Leprosy Ground

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Vadodara city and district administrations as well as the police department have been on their toes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival at Leprosy Ground on Ajwa Road Saturday where he will inaugurate development works worth Rs 21,000 crore, including railway projects worth Rs 16,400 crore.

While the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) unit has covered the city with Modi’s cutouts and hoardings, industrial and commercial establishments, local trade markets and residential colonies have been asked to attend the event in big numbers.

Close to 7,000 employees of various companies in Makarpura GIDC will head to the Leprosy Ground where PM Modi is expected to arrive shortly after 12.30 pm. He will drive towards the stage in an electric vehicle through a sea of over five lakh participants, which the city unit claims, have been mobilised in a “first-of-its-kind, unique experiment”. The GIDC in Makarpura will “voluntarily” remain shut Saturday as will local trade markets such as Khanderao and Hatikhana to hear the PM who is visiting Vadodara for the first time after 2016.

Himanshu Patel, Vice-President of Vadodara Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said GIDC businesses decided to offer a day off to their employees. “There is much excitement around PM Modi’s visit. We had been getting calls to ask if any arrangements could be made to transport the employees to the venue from various establishments… It was logistically not possible. So, it was decided to give the day off to the employees, who can directly go to the venue and attend the event,” Patel said.

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Traders from Hathikhana and Khanderao markets said on conditions of anonymity that while some traders may have wanted to join the event as they are members of the party, the mass bandh of the markets to join the event has been at the insistence of local BJP leaders. A big group of women from the city is also expected to be among the audience–along with participants from Vadodara district, Anand, Kheda, Panchmahal, and Chhota Udepur.

In a media briefing Friday evening, BJP City Unit Chief Dr Vijay Shah said the party had made “all-out attempts” to make the event grand by inviting participants through various channels. “We have put up BJP flags in all roadside dividers, cutouts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as hoardings to spread the message of eight years of Modiji’s governance at the Centre. We have also issued scroll messages through electronic news channels to make people aware of the event. Close to 1.38 lakh Page Pramukhs of the city unit have also sent voice messages to people to invite them to the event. We had also started an office in the Assembly constituency of MLA Manisha Vakil so that the entire area of the constituency could be covered and people be ushered to the venue… All five MLAs of the party have held meetings in residential colonies of their respective constituencies to mobilise as many people as possible through buses,” Shah said.

The party, in an official statement, said, “The party leaders held a meeting with important figures from the city belonging to religious institutions, industries associations, NGOs, etc, at the circuit house to discuss PM Modi’s event. They have all voluntarily decided to close their trade and commerce activity for a day to join the event. The party has also held discussions with colleges, schools, and tuition classes so that maximum people can join the programme from educational institutions as well. We also prepared five carnival floats in the five assembly constituencies in the city to spread the message of the event… More than 10,000 lotus wall paintings have been undertaken in the city.” Women beneficiaries from all four districts will be given preference in seating arrangements at the venue.

BJP state General Secretary Bhargav Bhatt said Vadodara will “welcome Modiji, who will arrive after unfurling the temple flag in Pavagadh after 550 years of wait”. A government release Friday stated the flag hoisting at the newly renovated Kalika Mata temple in Pavagadh, at a total cost of Rs 137 crore, was a “significant step for Pavagadh Yatradham that alters history”. “The Pavagadh temple’s Shikhar had been dilapidated for several years. Now, it has been reconstructed with a modern touch… The redevelopment involved flattening the Pavagadh hilltop and then creating a modern complex, without touching the sanctum sanctorum of the Goddess… It also involved an amicable separation and shifting of a dargah located in place of the Shikhar of the temple to a nearby location within the complex in order to pave the way for the new Shikhar and the unfurling of the flag,” the release said.

Meanwhile, several government and private-run schools in Vadodara city will remain closed Saturday in view of the PM visit. The Vadodara city police Friday released a list of 13 road diversions to fortify the Ajwa road area for the event.

VMC works overnight to repair pipeline damage

The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) had to work overnight on Friday to repair the damage on the airwall connecting the 200mm pipeline of the Rs 176-crores Sindhrot water project that PM Modi will inaugurate on Saturday after damage caused several litres of water to overflow and flood roads in Sindhrot village.

Additional city engineer for water works Amrut Makwana said, “The damage occurred late on Thursday night when Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation erroneously drilled into one of the airwall pipelines. It did cause a lot of water to flow out but we have not been able to estimate the wastage… It took us three hours to repair the damage but pipeline is now restored and the project is ready for inauguration.”

The 150 MLD water project is much awaited as it is expected to meet the demand for water in Vadodara city’s south zone.

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