New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind Thursday lauded the Union government for tackling the severe cyclonic storm ‘Fani’ and said efforts would be made to clean up river Mahanadi as part of a national project on the lines of Ganga clean-up plan.
While addressing both the Houses of Parliament at the Central Hall, the President said that space technology has helped us in stregthening our security at land, air and water.
“Space technology plays a central role in improving the lives of the common man, providing early-warning of impending disasters and ensuring national security. Our expertise in accurate weather forecasting has improved. This was evidenced during the recent cyclone Fani that struck the coast of Odisha and West Bengal. Due to accurate prior information and timely preparation, large scale destruction to life and property was averted,’’ said the President.
Kovind also said the Union government will clean up major rivers in the country including Mahanadi on the lines of river Ganga clean-up operation.
“Under the Namami Gange scheme, my government will further accelerate the campaign for closure of drains releasing effluents into the river Ganga. The government will also endeavour to clean up major rivers such as Mahanadi, Kaveri, Periyar, Narmada, Yamuna and Godavari,’’ he said.
Highlighting the Modi government’s achievements and priorities, Kovind pushed for simultaneous elections, saying it is the “need of the hour.”
Asserting that the government was moving ahead to creating a “strong, secure and inclusive” India, the President said national security was paramount for the government and touched upon surgical strikes and air strikes on Pakistan-based terror camps.
Kovind underlined the government’s resolve to remove “social evils” of triple talaq and “nikah halala” to ensure equal rights for women, and to take forward the campaign against black money at a faster pace and make the zero tolerance policy against corruption more effective.
On issues relating to economy, Kovind, dressed in a cream bandgala, said the government will soon announce an industrial policy to promote growth and create jobs.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and MPs of both Houses in attendance in the Central Hall of Parliament, the President said the general elections had enhanced the credibility of Indian democracy as a record number of people – 61 crore –voted, including the highest share of women.
Kovind, in his speech, which is prepared by the government, said empowering every person in the country is the main goal of the ruling dispensation which, he added, wants to build a ‘New India’ by 2022 in which there is no discrimination on the grounds of caste or religion.
“My government is giving residential and health facilities to poor as poverty can be removed only by empowering them,” he said.
Several NDA MPs thumped the desks when Kovind said the government’s philosophy is Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas aur Sabka Vishwas which is aimed at the welfare of all.
“The people of the country have given a clear mandate in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. After assessing the performance of the government during its first tenure, people have given even stronger mandate for the second term. By doing so, they have given a mandate for continuing uninterrupted and accelerated pace the journey of development,” he said. The BJP won 303 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats at stake compared to 282 in the 2014 polls. On parliamentary and assembly polls, Kovind said due to frequent polls in some parts of the country, the pace and continuity of development programmes have been impacted.
“Therefore, I urge all MPs to ponder over this development oriented proposal of One Nation – Simultaneous Elections,’’ he said. His suggestion came a day after Modi held deliberations with chiefs of 21 political parties over the issue and announced setting up of a panel for time-bound suggestions.
Kovind noted that half of the MPs in this Lok Sabha have been elected for the first time and the presence of 78 women MPs, the highest ever, presents the picture of a new India. He said penalties for crimes against women have been made ‘‘harsher’’ and the new penal provisions are being strictly enforced. Kovind flagged national security as a top most priority of the government which intends to ensure this as it was done after the terror attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir in February.
“India has demonstrated both her intent and capabilities, first through surgical strikes and then through air strikes on terrorist hideouts across the border after the Pulwama attack. In the future too, all possible steps will be taken to ensure our security,” he added. The President said New India will be sensitive and also, economically prosperous but for this to happen, ‘‘nation’s security is of utmost importance’’. Referring to infiltration, he said this posed a major threat to internal security. “This is leading to social imbalance in many parts of the country, as well as putting a huge pressure on limited livelihood opportunities,’’ he said. He also spoke about the decision to start pension schemes for farmers and small traders, and extending the scheme to give `6,000 input subsidy to all farmers. Noting that a strong national economy can be built only on the foundation of a strong rural economy, he said an investment of `25 lakh crore will be made in the coming years to enhance farm productivity.