Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi File photo

Modi flags off Vande Bharat Express, launches other railway projects in Bengal

New Delhi, December 30, 2022

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today flagged off the Vande Bharat Express train, connecting Howrah to New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, and launched several other railway projects.

Participating via video conferencing in the event held in Kolkata, shortly after performing the last rites of his mother Hiraben, who passed away in Ahmedabad in the early hours of today, the Prime Minister also inaugurated the Joka-Taratala stretch of the Joka-Esplanade Metro Project (Purple Line).

He also dedicated four railway projects to the nation including Boinchi - Shaktigarh 3rd Line, Dankuni - Chandanpur 4th Line Project, Nimtita - New Farakka Double Line and Ambari Falakata - New Maynaguri - Gumanihat Doubling Project.

He also laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.

Modi, who was slated to travel to Kolkata for the event today, apologised to the gathering for not remaining physically present.

He said that, for him, this is the day to bow to the land of Bengal as the history of the freedom struggle is infused in every particle of Bengal.

“The land from where the call of Vande Mataram originated, saw the flagging off of Vande Bharat today," he remarked.

The Prime Minister recalled that, on this day in 1943, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose hoisted the Tricolour in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and set the wheels in motion for the independence of India.

He said that, on the 75th anniversary of the historic day, he had got the opportunity to visit Andaman to name an island in honour of Netaji.

He said India had taken a resolve to start Vande Bharat trains during the celebrations of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and the train being flagged off today from Howrah to New Jalpaiguri is one of them.

Mentioning the multiple projects whose foundation stones were laid and inaugurated today, the Prime Minister said that the government is spending approximately Rs 5,000 crore on them.

He said he would be dedicating projects pertaining to the cleanliness of the Ganga and drinking water supply to West Bengal later in the day. He said more than 25 sewage projects have been approved in West Bengal under the Namami Gange Scheme, out of which 11 projects are already complete and seven are being completed today. Work on five new schemes with an outlay of Rs 1,500 crore is starting today.

He said that for one of the key projects, Adi Ganga project, infrastructure worth Rs 600 crore was being established.

Modi said that, along with cleaning of rivers, the Central Government had focused on prevention, which revolves around creating a large number of modern sewage treatment plants. This is being done keeping in mind the requirements of the next 10-15 years, he said.

The Prime Minister linked reforms and development of Indian Railways with the development of the country. That is why, he said, the Government is making record investments in the modern railway infrastructure. A nationwide campaign is going on to transform the Indian Railways, he said.

He listed modern trains like Vande Bharat, Tejas Hum Safar and VistaDome coaches and the modernisation of Railway Stations including New Jalpaiguri, doubling and electrification of railway lines as examples of this modernization. He also mentioned the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors as projects that will bring revolutionary changes in the logistics sector.

The Prime Minister highlighted strides made in the fields of railway safety, cleanliness, coordination, capability, punctuality and facilities.

He said that, while 20 thousand route kilometre rail lines were electrified in the first 70 years of Independence, more than 32 thousand route kilometres have been electrified since 2014.

He said the Metro Rail system is an example of India’s speed and scale today. “Metro network which was less than 250 km before 2014 had the highest share in Delhi-NCR. In the last 7-8 years, Metro has expanded to more than two dozen cities. Today Metro is running on an approximately 800 km long of track in different cities of the country. Work is going on Metro routes of more than 1,000 km,” he said.

Referring to the challenges posed to India in the yesteryears, the Prime Minister remarked that it had a very negative effect on the development of the country. He spoke about a lack of coordination among various agencies involved in the infrastructural development of the nation. He also mentioned the lack of coordination among the various transport agencies and, as a result, one had no clue about the work being done by the others.

“This had a direct impact on the honest taxpayers of the country,” he said. He said that when their hard-earned money is used to fill the pockets of the corrupt rather than the poor, it is natural to be dissatisfied.

“The Government launched the PM Gati Shakti Plan to fill the gaps in the coordination of agencies. Be it different state governments, construction agencies or industry experts, everyone is coming together on the Gati Shakti Platform.”

He said the PM Gati Shakti is not only limited to conjoining the different mediums of transport in the country but also providing pace to the multimodal projects. He said the construction of new airports, waterways, ports and roads is being carried out to ensure seamless connectivity for the citizens.

“We must make correct use of the potential of the nation to move forward in the 21st century,” he said.

The Prime Minister said there was a time when waterways were used on a large scale for work, business and tourism in India but were later destroyed during the years of slavery. He said there was a lack of efforts by the previous governments to revive the waterways.

He said more than 100 waterways are being developed today and work is taking place to introduce advanced cruise ships in the rivers while boosting business and tourism. He also highlighted the Ganga-Brahmaputra project that is being carried out between India and Bangladesh to establish waterway links between the two rivers.

Referring to the cruise that is going to set sail on January 13, 2023 from Kashi to Dibrugarh via Bangladesh, he said the 3,200 km long journey is the first-of-its-kind in the entire world and will be a reflection of the growing cruise tourism in the country.

West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw were amongst those present on the occasion.


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