Chennai: India as a nation will prosper only when funds flow from the Centre for the development of diverse, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual States does not falter, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin said on Saturday.
Prosperous and strong States are the true indicators of co-operative federalism and vibrant India, he insisted and claimed that his Dravidian model of governance is striving on this principle to implement the structural programmes required for the development of the entire Tamil Nadu.
"The Dravidian model of governance in Tamil Nadu is implementing many social development projects along with infrastructure projects... if there is to be true federalism at the Centre, then States should be autonomous," he said at a function held at Pallavaram where Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new integrated terminal at the airport here and laid foundation stones for new initiatives.
As the States are closer to the people, the duty of fulfilling their needs is more with the States. "Therefore, I would like to emphasise that the Centre's cooperation is very much needed to fulfill the financial needs of States and also meet the people's aspirations. I believe that the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India will agree with my views as he had been Chief Minister before," Stalin, who is president of the DMK, said.
He argued that if federalism has to exist in letter and spirit then it is imperative to have stronger States, and quoted his father and former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi saying that "is it not mockable to place all the weight on top of a structure and have weak pillars to support them?"
"Despite the fiscal crisis we have increased the capital expenditure on infrastructure like roads and bridges from Rs 33,068 crore when we took over the reins to Rs 44,365 crore this year," Stalin said.
He thanked the Prime Minister for inaugurating and laying the foundation stone for important infrastructure projects in Tamil Nadu, including flagging off the Vande Bharat express train between Chennai - Coimbatore, Thiruthuraiooondi - Agasthiyampalli train service, and pledged Tamil Nadu's full cooperation to the Centre's efforts to improve road infrastructure, which are the lifeline of the State's economy.
Tamil Nadu, Stalin said, has emerged as the leading State with the best road infrastructure. "We continue to make huge fiscal commitment to further improve the road infrastructure. However, in many parts of Tamil Nadu, the need for road infrastructure, which is essential for the next phase of development, continues to rise," he said.
Major projects such as the Chennai - Maduravoyal expressway, Chennai - Tambaram elevated corridor, four-laning of East Coast Road, widening of Chennai - Kanchipuram - Vellore highways and Chennai-Madurai national highway to six lanes should be expedited. "I take this opportunity to request Our Hon'ble Prime Minister to direct the NHAI for speeding up of the ongoing road projects," he urged.
Also, he requested Modi to introduce Vande Bharat express train service between Chennai and Madurai. "Further, I request that the ticket fare for Vande Bharat train be reduced so that everyone could travel," he said.
On the various railway projects being implemented in the State, Stalin said there was a consensus among the people of Tamil Nadu that the State, which is India's second largest economy, has not been given adequate importance by the railways for many years. Besides, projects announced for Tamil Nadu have not been completed due to insufficient financial allocations in the railway budget.
"Therefore, I request our Prime Minister to increase the fund allocation for the railway projects in Tamil Nadu and to speed up the pending projects," he said.
Work to build a new modern airport in Parandur, which is necessary for the economic development of Tamil Nadu has been started and this apart the expansion of many airports like Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli and Thoothukudi where land acquisition work is in progress, require funds. Hence, sufficient allocation should be made for the airport expansion projects, he said.