February 2, 2004

PM's speech on the occasion of foundation laying ceremony of four-laning of the South-North corridor

“Tamil Makkalakku En Idayam Kaninda Vanakkamgal

(My heartfelt pranaams to the people of Tamil Nadu)

Kanyakumari is not merely the name of a place. It is a symbol of India’s unity and India’s greatness. Every Indian learns his first lesson in patriotism by learning about the two ends of our vast country – Kashmir in the north and Kanyakumari in the south.

I have come here to lay the foundation of a project that will connect Kanyakumari to Kashmir with a grand highway. In April last year, I had laid the foundation of the same project in Srinagar.

We call it the North-South Corridor. There is a similar East-West Corridor connecting Porbandar, the birthplace of Gandhiji, in Gujarat to Silchar in Assam.

The roads in our country are like the lines on one’s palm. They are the lines of India’s Destiny. We are working for the day when we can travel from Kanyakumari to Srinagar and from Porbandar to Silchar on world-class highways.

In addition to these two corridors, work is going on to complete the Golden Quadrilateral, which will connect Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai with four-lane highways.

My hearty congratulations to Shri Khanduriji and the National Highways Development Authority. They have undertaken this infrastructure project of unprecedented magnitude and are implementing it at an unprecedented speed.

Now, as if this 14,000 km long National Highway Development Project itself was not ambitious enough, Shri Khanduriji’s ministry has recently unveiled another massive project of building additional 10,000 km of highways – the Pradhan Mantri Bharat Jodo Pariyojana.

This will connect all of India in a comprehensive way with four-lane highways. There will not be a single State capital left, and not a single important commercial centre in the country left without being connected by top-class highways.

We have provided stability for five years. We have provided Good Governance for five years. Our nation is stronger than ever – both in security and in development. Today India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

During the last five years, we have launched many ambitious developmental projects. The highway project, for which I have come to Kanyakumari today, is just among the many.

Friends, I am happy that we have among us today Dr. Jayalalithaa, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu who readily agreed to join us, on this special occasion.She has worked hard for the development of Tamil Nadu. We value our partnership with Dr. Jaya. Under her dynamic leadership, Tamil Nadu has made impressive strides to socio-economic development.

I thank all of you for coming in such large numbers and listening to me with patience. Thank you.