October 19, 2006

PM's speech at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Hero Honda Plant

I am extremely happy to be here today to lay the foundation stone of project which has immense significance not only to Uttaranchal but to the nation as a whole. I am told that the Hero Honda factory which will take shape here in 18 months' time is the largest ever industrial project in Uttaranchal and is expected to transform the industrial scenario of the state. I am happy to be associated with it and hope that this factory represents the boom in industry and employment that I expect to see in Uttaranchal soon.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

India is currently passing through unprecedented economic growth. The UPA government has put in place policies which are generating over 8% growth on average for the last 3 years. We are targeting a 9-10% annual growth rate in the next 5 years. This would be the basis for generating the resources needed for the massive investments we plan to make in agriculture, rural development, rural infrastructure and poverty alleviation.

This growth has been possible because we have created an environment in which creativity and enterprise can flourish and the vitality of our entrepreneurs, unleashed. As I travel around the country and the world, I am amazed at the dynamism being shown by our industries and firms. They are investing on an unprecedented scale and expanding their capabilities to boldly take on global competition. Many of them are actually taking over firms in other countries, setting up factories and becoming global companies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Among the large number of dynamic fast growing enterprises we have, the Hero Group stands out as one which is second to none. It is both a beneficiary as well as a source of the dynamism we see in industry. Beginning with humble roots as a small cycle factory in Ludhiana, Shri Brij Mohan Munjal built Hero Cycles into one of the world's largest cycle companies. This is a testimony to the faith which millions of users have reposed in their products.

But what distinguishes the Hero group is that they anticipated the rising but unfulfilled demand for two-wheeler automobiles, such as motor- cycles and scooters, and swiftly moved into this growing sector. The fact that they are today not only India's largest motor-cycle manufacturer but one of the largest two-wheeler companies in the world shows how Hero Honda has single-handedly pursued the goal of market leadership based on the simple principles of quality and cost-effectiveness. I compliment the Munjals for their fantastic success and hope the best is yet to come.

Firms such as the Hero Group represent the future of Indian business and manufacturing. They can power India into an automotive and industrial giant, making us a global manufacturing hub. They have their potential to generate the millions of jobs which our youth needs. The UPA government will do whatever is necessary to realize this goal of making India the 'workshop of the world', just as England once was.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am particularly happy that Hero Honda have chosen the beautiful state of Uttaranchal and the holy city of Haridwar for setting up their new plant. Their choice is wise.

Uttaranchal is one of the best governed states in our country. In the last five years, under the wise experienced leadership of Shri N. D. Tiwariji, the state has been making major strides in all fields of development. I am aware that the 4 years of Congress government have finally put this lovely state on the path to rapid progress. The formation of Uttaranchal was the culmination of the dreams and hopes of the people of the region who desired a much faster improvement in their quality of life than in the past. The Congress government of Shri Tiwariji has put the state on a course which can only lead to greater welfare of all people of the state.

It is a fact that, baring a few exceptions, most Hindi speaking regions of the country are relatively more backward on many counts. Himachal Pradesh was being usually held as an exception to the rule, as a state which has made tremendous strides in health, education and development. To a large extent, this was a result of the forward looking policies of its first Chief Minister, Shri Parmar. When Uttaranchal was formed, the people had hopes that they could expect a future similar to that of Himachal. Under the wise, stable Congress government of Shri Tiwariji, I believe that Uttaranchal has been given a stable foundation to build its dreams on.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Uttaranchal is seeing all round development in all areas of economic and developmental activity. Schools, hospitals, roads, drinking water facilities, houses and irrigation projects are being built throughout the state. It is already far more advanced on social parameters than its neighbour, Uttar Pradesh.

It has the potential to be a power giant. The Tehri project is already under operation. As more power projects come on line, Uttaranchal can earn a lot of income by supplying electricity to the rest of the country. We are helping the state to have 100% electrification of all villages and habitations by 2009 under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The development of Uttaranchal is of utmost priority for us. It has relatively poor infrastructure. We are taking steps for the 6-laning of the Delhi-Dehradun Highway which is the main artery into the state. We will increase the frequency of the Kathgodam-Dehradun express to make travel between Kumaon and Garhwal easier. We are taking up the construction of roads along the India-China and India-Nepal borders which are not only strategic but of great utility to people living in the remote districts.

Drinking water is a problem in many habitations. We will adapt the definition of habitation to suit the hilly areas. We will provide assistance to drinking water projects in Danda Nagraja and Mundaneshwar in Pauri Garhwal, Ghanta Karan in Tehri Garhwal and Doram and Saryu-Belakh-Dania in Almora. This will alleviate drinking water problems in these villages.

Uttaranchal is home to some of the holiest pilgrimage sites in the country. Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamnotri, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Hemkunt Sahib and the route to Mansarovar bring lakhs of pilgrims to the state. We will provide a special grant of Rs 100 crores to Haridwar to prepare for the Kumbh in 2010. Haridwar will also be assisted under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. The Mansarovar route will be developed by the Ministry of Tourism.

Uttaranchal, because of its excellent weather and hospitable people, can be an educational, medical and industrial centre. We have speeded up the work on the AIIMS in Rishikesh. The special industrial package has been extended and this plant is a result of that. I am told that many more major factories are in the pipeline. The state wants external assistance given as a 90% grant which we are going to consider favourably. The state can produce a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for which we will provide storage and marketing facilities through the National Horticultural Mission. And last but not the least, we are changing the name of the state to Uttarakhand, a name dear to your hearts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, I once again compliment the Hero Group for this major industrial initiative. I also congratulate Shri Tiwariji and the Government of Uttaranchal for attracting such a large venture to the state. I wish you all success.

Jai Hind.