President Ram Nath Kovind Saturday visited the Statue of Unity on the death anniversary of India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and laid the foundation stone for a railway station in Kevadiya in Narmada district of Gujarat.
He described the proposed railway station as the Indian Railways’ tribute to Patel.
“It would speed up the development of the region. It would lead to an increased flow of tourists from across the country and beyond, and make their travel to the Statue of Unity faster and more convenient,” Kovind said, addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone of the railway station.
He said the 182-metre-tall statue, dedicated to Patel, has boosted tourism in the region and created employment opportunities for local tribals.
The president noted that apart from being a medium of transportation, railway is crucial for the economic development.
“Indian Railways not only connects various parts and regions of the country, but also the hearts of people across the country,” he said.
“I am told that Kevadiya railway station building will be the first green building of this railway line. It will have effective methods of water management with modern facilities,” Kovind said.
He expressed confidence the station would emerge as a fine example of how to strike a balance between development and environmental protection.
The railway station, to be built at a cost of Rs 20 crore, is aimed at providing direct rail connectivity to tourists visiting the Statue of Unity.
To connect Kevadiya with the main broad-gauge line, the railways has approved converting the 18-km Dabhoi-Chandod narrow gauge into broad gauge and extension from Chandod to Kevadia by constructing a 32-km line.
Remembering Patel on his death anniversary, Kovind said people consider him an icon.
“When he was the chief minister of Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had resolved to build the world’s highest statue in his (Patel’s) honour. And that resolution became a reality in the form of the 182-metre-tall statue of Sardar Patel,” he added.
On the Sardar Sarovar dam project, the president lauded the government and people of Gujarat for effectively managing water resources.
“Due to their efforts, water could be made available to the people living in water-deficient regions of the state, such as Saurashtra and Kutch,” he said.
Earlier Saturday, Kovind visited the ‘Valley of Flowers’ developed near the Statue of Unity. He was accompanied by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, state Chief Secretary J N Singh and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.
After planting a tree in memory of Patel, the president attended a prayer meet at the statue complex.
The world’s tallest statue dedicated to Patel was unveiled by Modi in October.
After offering tributes to Patel, Kovind visited the museum and exhibition area beneath the statue. He also visited the viewing gallery located at a height of 132 metres inside the structure.
In the visitors’ book, Kovind paid tributes to Patel and wrote that the statue would remain a centre of attraction and would be respected for years.
He also gave credit to Modi for conceptualising and bringing the mega structure into reality, and remembered the contribution of people, who sent iron articles for the statue, and the labourers who worked day and night to achieve the goal.