On first sight, given its width, it was hard to believe that this was the same road that took us some years ago from Mehsana to Modi’s village. Further closer, high-rise apartments, shopping arcades and multiple construction sites give an impression that the countryside, where Modi once pranced as a child, has been swallowed by modernity. But that isn’t the case. The lanes and bylanes associated with PM Modi, the Sharmishtha lake — where it is said that a young Narendra caught a baby crocodile — are still there.
Modi can be faulted about many things, but he has kept his promise to Vadnagar. I first heard of the place way back in early 1999 while interacting with him when writing a ‘routine’ profile after his elevation as official BJP spokesman during the Kargil war. Talking about Vadnagar, he had said if life gave him an opportunity, he would do something for his village. He got that chance two years later and within two months of becoming chief minister a special committee to oversee its development was set up. The place soon became a tourist spot, venue of an annual music festival and much more. But it remained the quintessential village barely morphing into a settlement that was a cross between a village and a township. Demographers would have labelled Vadnagar a ‘rurban’ area when Modi became PM. Not anymore!
Rajivbhai Prajapati is a former president of the local Nagar Palika and besides expanding his energies canvassing for the local BJP candidate, veteran leader and sitting MLA Narayanbhai Lalludas Patel whose fate will be decided in the second phase of polling on December 14, he also looks after his property brokering business. It takes quite a bit of his time as real estate prices have soared in Vadnagar after Modi became the PM. From prices in the range of Rs 20-25,000/bigha in April 2014, the cost has risen to Rs 1-1.5 crore depending on location and distance from the main road bifurcating the newer parts of the township that has seen its population rise from 25,000 to 32,000 in just three years. He estimates that since 2014, there has been a total real estate investment of Rs 500 crore.
There is a surfeit of government schemes and programmes for Vadnagar. A medical college and hospital was inaugurated by Modi in October after its recognition was fast-tracked by the Medical Council of India. The place now boasts of an ITI, a Navodaya Science College, a Town Hall, a Nagar Palika Bhawan besides two bus stands, and all constructed in the past three years. Vadnagar’s development is monitored by central ministers who ensure that funds are not a problem and local BJP leader, Jayesh Barot, says that high-profile visits to the town are routine.
The big news is that the railway line through the by now well-known station does not run these days. Though the station building was ‘inaugurated’ some weeks before the poll schedule was announced, conversion of the Mehsana-Taranga Hill metre gauge line — now being extended to Abu Road — to broad gauge is not yet complete. Factories are being set up to add to the solitary food processing plant that currently produces packaged mushrooms, the first pack of which was presented by the company to Modi. It employs 2,000 people, mainly migrant workers and is poised to become India’s largest food processing project.
Branches of various banks are also mushrooming though as the manager of one of these explains, customer enquiry is still limited and restricted to the “senior citizens”. Vadnagar surely is a project in making.
Source : timesofindia