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Guwahati: The Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off Assam’s first Vande Bharat Express via video conferencing today. The Vande Bharat Express will connect Guwahati with New Jalpaiguri Guwahati and the journey will take 5 hrs 30 mins. The Prime Minister also dedicated 182 Route kilometers of newly electrified sections and inaugurated a newly constructed DEMU/MEMU shed at Lumding in Assam.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister said that today is a huge day for the connectivity of the Northeast as three development works are being accomplished together. Firstly, the Prime Minister elaborated, Northeast is getting its first Vande Bharat Express today where this is the third Vande Bharat Express which connects West Bengal. Secondly, approximately 425 kilometers of railway tracks in Assam and Meghalaya have been electrified. And, thirdly, a new DEMU/MEMU shed has been inaugurated in Lumding in Assam. The Prime Minister congratulated the citizens of the entire Northeast along with Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal on this momentous occasion.
The Prime Minister said that the Guwahati -New Jalpaiguri Vande Bharat train will strengthen the centuries-old ties between Assam and West Bengal. This will increase ease of travel and provide huge benefits to students and will increase job opportunities arising out of tourism and business. He said that this Vande Bharat will provide connectivity to Maa Kamakhya Temple, Kaziranga, Manas National Park, and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. Furthermore, the Prime Minister pointed out that it will enhance travel and tourism in Shillong, Cherrapunji in Meghalaya and Tawang and Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh.
Throwing light on the 9 years of the NDA government in power, the Prime Minister remarked that the nation has witnessed numerous accomplishments and unprecedented development towards a new India in these years. He highlighted the newly inaugurated magnificent Parliament House of independent India and said that it will connect the thousand-year-old democratic history of India with its prosperous democracy of the future.
Referring to past governments, the Prime Minister pointed out that the scams of before 2014 had broken all records where the maximum impact was felt by the poor and the states which lagged behind in development the government has prioritized the welfare of the poor, the Prime Minister remarked as he gave examples of houses, toilets, tapped water connections, electricity, gas pipelines, the development of AIIMS, infrastructure boost to roads, railways, airways, airways, waterways, ports and mobile connectivity.
He underlined that the government has worked at full strength to achieve these goals. Noting that infrastructure makes people’s lives easier, creates employment opportunities and becomes a basis for development, the Prime Minister mentioned that the infrastructure development pace in India is being discussed all over the globe. This infrastructure, the Prime Minister said, strengthens and empowers the poor, backward, dalits, adivasis and other deprived sections of the society. “Infrastructure is for everyone and it does not discriminate”, the Prime Minister said as he underlined that this form of development is the pure form of social justice and secularism.
The Prime Minister said that the biggest beneficiaries of the infrastructure push have been the states of Eastern and Northeastern India. He said that earlier, the people of the Northeast remained deprived of even the basic facilities for decades. He said that a large number of villages and families which did not have electricity, telephone or good rail road air connectivity until 9 years ago were from the Northeast.
The Prime Minister presented rail connectivity in the region as an example of work with a service spirit. The rail connectivity in the northeast is proof of the government’s speed, scale and intention, the Prime Minister said. The Prime Minister said that even in colonial times Assam, Tripura and Bengal were connected with railways, even though, with an intention to loot the natural resources of the region. However, even after Independence, the expansion of railways in the region was ignored and finally fell on the current government after 2014.
Modi said that he has given the highest priority to Northeast people's sensitivities and facilities. This change has been widely felt, he added. He informed that before 2014, the average railways budget for the Northeast was about 2500 crore rupees which has grown to more than 10 thousand crores this year, a four-fold increase. Now capitals of Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Sikkim are being connected to the rest of the country, “Very soon all capital cities of the Northeast are going to be connected with a broad gauge network”, he said, “One lakh crore rupees are being spent on these projects.
“The scale and speed of the development works of the government has been unprecedented”, the Prime Minister remarked as he noted that new rail lines are being laid in the Northeast at three times the pace than before and the doubling of rail lines is taking place 9 times faster than before. The Prime Minister mentioned that the work for doubling of rail lines began in the last 9 years and the government is working towards saturation at a very fast pace.
The Prime Minister credited the pace of development which led to many remote areas of the Northeast being connected with railways. He informed that Nagaland got its second railway station after almost 100 years. Now, the Prime Minister said, Vande Bharat Semi High-speed trains and Tejas Express are running on the same path where once stood a narrow gauge line capable of low speeds. He also mentioned the Vista Dome coaches of the Indian Railways which have become a center of attraction for tourists.
“Indian Railway has become a medium of connecting hearts, societies and opportunities to the people along with speed”, the Prime Minister remarked as he highlighted the first transgender tea stall at Guwahati Railway Station. He stated that it is an attempt to give a life of respect to those who expect better behaviour from society. Under the 'One Station, One Product' scheme, the Prime Minister highlighted that stalls have been set up at railway stations in the Northeast which give emphasis to Vocal for Local thereby providing a new market for local artisans, artists, and craftsmen. He also gave the example of Wi-Fi facilities provided at hundreds of stations in the Northeast. “It is only with this combination of sensitivity and speed that Northeast will move forward on the path of progress and pave the way towards a developed India.
The state-of-the-art Vande Bharat Express will provide the people of the region with the means to travel with speed and comfort. It will also boost tourism in the region. Connecting Guwahati with New Jalpaiguri, the train will help save about an hour of journey time, when compared with the current fastest train connecting the two places. Vande Bharat will cover the journey in 5 hrs 30 mins, while the current fastest train takes 6 hrs 30 mins to cover the same journey.
The Prime Minister dedicated 182 Route kilometers of newly electrified sections. This will help provide pollution-free transportation with trains running at higher speeds and reduced running time of trains. It will also open the doors for trains running on electric traction to enter Meghalaya.
The Prime Minister also inaugurated a newly constructed DEMU/MEMU shed at Lumding in Assam. This new facility will be helpful for maintaining DEMU rakes operating in this region, leading to better operational feasibility.