Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday flagged off the Vande Bharat Express train from Dehradun to Delhi, hours after his return from a three-nation tour, and said the whole world is looking at India with great expectation, and the manner it has strengthened its economy despite poverty.
Addressing the Vande Bharat inaugural ceremony via video conferencing, Prime Minister Modi said India has gained the confidence of the world. The nation showed its determination to fight the Corona pandemic, which gave a difficult time to many nations. India ran the world’s largest vaccination drive, he said.
Modi said there is much discussion about India around the world and people want to come here to understand it and see its performance.
He said India had the opportunity to improve its infrastructure and develop fast in the 21st century, but the Governments which were in office for long periods never appreciated this requirement of the country. The parties that ruled then were more interested in scams and corruption.
These ruling parties were under the influence of a family, and getting free from this bondage was beyond their capabilities, he said. The previous Governments made announcements on high-speed trains but even after years, they could achieve nothing, and not even removal of unmanned railway crossings, Modi said.
The electrification of the railway network was in a worse condition, he said. Till 2014, only one-third of the network was electrified and it was difficult to imagine running high-speed trains in such a situation, the Prime Minister said.
The all-around work to transform the railways began after 2014, he said. The work to realise the dream of the country’s first high-speed train began in full swing and to prepare the whole network for semi-high-speed trains.
The Prime Minister said that 600 km of rail lines were electrified every year on an average before 2014, and this has now reached 6,000 kms of railway lines electrified every year. “Today, more than 90 per cent of the country’s railway network has been electrified. In Uttarakhand, 100 per cent electrification of the entire rail network has been achieved,” he said.
The Prime Minister credited this to right intention, policy and dedication to work. Underlining that the boost in the railway budget in comparison to 2014 has directly benefited Uttarakhand, the Prime Minister said five years before 2014, the average rail budget for the state was less than Rs 200 crore, and it is Rs 5,000 crore now, a 25-fold increase.
The Prime Minister said connectivity was important in a hilly state where people were migrating due to a lack of connectivity. The Government wants to prevent that suffering for the coming generations. He said the improved connectivity will be of great use on the borders and benefit soldiers defending the nation.
The Prime Minister remarked that with the assistance of the Central Government, Uttarakhand is emerging as a hub of tourism, adventure tourism, film shooting destination and wedding destination. He said that the tourist spots of the state are attracting visitors from all across the globe and the Vande Bharat Express will be greatly helpful to them.
The Prime Minister observed that traveling by train remains the first choice for those who are accompanied by their family members and the Vande Bharat is gradually becoming the go-to means of transportation.
The Prime Minister said that the government’s emphasis is on the ‘Navratna’, the nine gems of development. The first Ratna, he said, is Rs 1300 crore rejuvenation work at Kedarnath-Badrinath Dham. Second, Rs 2500 crore Ropeway project at Gaurikund-Kedarnath and Gobind Ghat- Hemkunt Sahib.
The third was the renovation of ancient temples of Kumaon under Manas Khand Mandir Mala programme, the fourth was the promotion of Homestay in the entire state where more than 4000 homestays have been registered in the state, the fifth, the development of 16 ecotourism destinations, and the sixth, expansion of health services in Uttarakhand.
The AIIMS satellite centre is coming up in Udham Singh Nagar, the seventh is Rs 2000 cr. Tehri Lake Development Project, the eighth, the development of Haridwar Rishikesh as the capital of Yoga and adventure tourism and finally, the ninth is Tanakpur Bageshwar Rail Line.
He said these Navratnas are being consolidated with a new push to infrastructure development in the state. Work is going on at a rapid pace on the Rs 12,000 crore Char Dham Mahapariyojana, he said.