Modi flags off eight trains facilitating seamless rail connectivity to Statue of Unity

Modi flags off eight trains facilitating seamless rail connectivity to Statue of Unity

New Delhi, January 17, 2021

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today flagged off eight trains connecting different regions of the country to Kevadiya in Gujarat which will provide seamless connectivity to the Statue of Unity.

Through video conferencing, the Prime Minister also inaugurated the Dabhoi–Chandod Gauge converted Broad Gauge railway line, Chandod – Kevadiya new Broad Gauge railway line, newly electrified Pratapnagar – Kevadiya section and the new station buildings of Dabhoi, Chandod and Kevadiya. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal were present on the occasion.

Modi said, perhaps, it was for the first time in the history of Railways, trains have been flagged off for the same destination from different corners of the country. He explained that this is because of the importance of Kevadiya as home to the Statue of Unity and Sardar Sarovar. Today’s event exemplifies the vision of railways and the mission of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, he added, referring to India's first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister whose statue at Kevadia is the tallest in the world.

Noting that one of the Kevadiya-bound trains was originating from Puruchi Thaliaivar Dr M G Ramachandran Central Railway Station, he paid tributes to the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on his birth anniversary. He said MGR’s political journey was dedicated to the poor and he worked tirelessly for a dignified life for the downtrodden. “We are working to fulfil his ideals,” he said referring to how a grateful nation renamed Chennai Central Railway station after MGR.

The new connectivity between Kevadiya and Chennai, Varanasi, Rewa, Dadar and Delhi along with MEMU service between Kevadiya and Pratapnagar and broad gauging of Dabhoi-Chandod and new Line between Chandod- Kevadiya will script a new chapter in the development of Kevadiya. This will benefit both the tourists and local Adivasis as this will bring new avenues of self-employment and employment. The railway line will provide a connection to the places of faith like Karnali, Poicha and Garudeshwar on Narmada.

Speaking on the development journey of Kevadiya, Modi asserted that Kevadiya was no longer just a small block in some remote area, it was rising as one of the biggest tourist destinations of the world. “The Statue of Unity is attracting more tourists than even the Statue of Liberty. More than 50 lakh visitors have come to see it after being dedicated to the nation. It is attracting more visitors now after staying closed during the Corona months. It is estimated, as the connectivity improves, about one lakh visitors per day will arrive in Kevadiya. This is a good example of the planned development of economy and ecology while protecting the environment,” he added.

“It used to appear like a pipedream when, initially, Kevadiya was proposed as a major tourist destination. Given the old way of working, this scepticism had a logic as there was no connectivity of roads, nor street lighting, rail, tourist accommodation. Now Kevadiya has transformed into a complete family package with all amenities.

“Attractions here include, grand Statue of Unity, Sardar Sarovar, vast Sardar Patel Zoological Park, Arogya Van and Jungle Safari and Poshan Park. It also has Glow Garden, Ekta Cruise and water sports. Due to increasing tourism, Adivasi youth are getting employment and local people are getting modern amenities. There are new opportunities for local handicrafts items in the Ekta Mall. About 200 rooms are being developed for Home Stay in the Adivasi villages,” he said.

Kevadiya railway station has been developed with the growing tourism in mind. It has a Tribal Art Gallery and a Viewing Gallery from where the Statue of Unity can be glimpsed.

The Prime Minister dwelt at length on the transformation of Indian Railways through goal-centric efforts. Apart from the traditional role of passenger and goods transportation, the railways provide direct connectivity to places of tourism and religious importance. Many trains including the Ahmedabad-Kevadiya Janshatabdi will have attractive "Vista Dome" coaches, he said.

Modi said the earlier focus in the Railways was limited to keeping the existing infrastructure running with little attention paid to new thinking or new technology. It was imperative to change this approach. In recent years, work was done on the comprehensive transformation of the entire railway system and it was not limited to tinkering with a budget and new train announcements. The transformation took place on many fronts. He gave the example of the present project of connecting Kevadiya where multi-pronged focus led to the completion of the task in record time.

He also presented the Dedicated Freight Corridor as an example of a change in approach from earlier times. Modi had dedicated the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors to the nation recently. This project was under progress and between 2006-2014 work was done only on paper with not even a single kilometre track laid. Now a total of 1100 Kilometre track were about to be completed in the next few days.

“Similarly, unconnected parts of the country were being connected. Broad gauge conversion and electrification has gained momentum and tracks were being prepared for higher speed. This has enabled the running of semi high-speed trains and we are moving towards high-speed capabilities,” he added.

The Prime Minister said it was being ensured that railways remain environment-friendly. Kevadiya Station was India’s first railway station to start functioning with a green building certification.

He also stressed the importance of Atmanirbharta (self-reliance) in railway-related manufacturing and technology which is yielding good results now. It was due to local manufacturing of high horse-power electric locomotive that India could launch the world’s first double-stacked long haul container train. “Today, a series of indigenously manufactured modern trains are part of Indian Railways,” Modi said.

“The need for skilled specialist manpower and professionals to meet the requirement of the railway transformation resulted in the establishment of a Deemed Railway University in Vadodara. India is one of the few countries to have an institute of this stature. Modern amenities for rail transport, multi-disciplinary research and training are being made available. Talented youth from 20 states are being trained to steer the present and future of the railway. This will help in modernizing railway through innovation and research,” he added.

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