New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday flagged off Assam’s first Vande Bharat Express that will connect Guwahati with New Jalpaiguri, via video conferencing, and took a jibe at previous governments for being involved in corruption and neglecting connectivity and development of the northeastern states.
Along with the semi-high speed train, Modi also dedicated New Bongaigaon–Dudhnoi–Mendipather and Guwahati–Chaparmukh electrified sections to the nation. He also inaugurated the new DEMU/MEMU (workshop for trains) shed at Lumding.
Addressing virtually, Modi said today, it is a big day for rail connectivity in the northeast, including Assam.
“Three projects related to northeast connectivity are going on simultaneously. Firstly, northeast today got its first made-in-India, Vande Bharat. Secondly, electrification work has been completed on railway tracks of around 425 km between Assam and Meghalaya and third DEMU/MEMU (workshop for trains) shed at Lumding,” he said.
He also slammed the previous governments for being involved in corruption and neglecting the development and connectivity of northeastern states.
He said, “Before 2014 decade, records were made in committing scams in different sectors. The poor and the regions, which were lagging behind in development, were harmed the most by these scams. Our government gave priority to the welfare of the poor.”
“To cover up their past failures, some people say that a lot of work was done in the northeast earlier also. These people made the people of northeast wait for decades even for basic facilities. The northeast has borne the brunt of this unforgivable crime,” he said.
Modi also said that infrastructure is for all, equally, without discrimination. “That’s why this infrastructure construction is also true social justice in a way, true secularism,” he asserted.
He also said that today, there is a lot of discussion in the whole world about the infrastructure work being done in India. Because this infrastructure makes life easier. “This infrastructure creates employment opportunities. This infrastructure is the basis of rapid development. This infrastructure empowers the poor, dalits, backward, tribals, every such deprived,” the Prime Minister said.
“The last nine years have been of unprecedented achievements for India, of building a new India. Only yesterday the country got the grand and divine modern Parliament of Independent India. This is the Parliament to connect India’s thousands of years old democratic history with our prosperous democratic future,” Modi said.
He further said that after coming to power, his government gave the highest priority to the welfare of the poor. “From houses to toilets for women, from water pipeline to electricity connection, from gas pipeline to AIIMS Medical College, road, rail, waterways, port, airport, mobile connectivity, we have worked with full force in every field,” he highlighted.
Modi said that in the last nine years, the budget has been increased manifold in comparison with the pre-2014 era for the railways. “The average railways budget was around Rs 2,500 crore for the northeast. This time, however, the rail budget for the northeast is around Rs 10,000 crore,” he said.
“Along with speed, today Indian Railways is also becoming a medium to connect hearts, connect society and connect people with opportunities,” he added.
This is also the first Vande Bharat service in the northeast.
The train is expected to save about an hour of journey time when compared with the current fastest train connecting the two places as it will cover the 410-kilometre-long journey in five-and-a-half hours.
This is the 18th Vande Bharat Express service, which became operational on Monday.
It will run six days a week and stop at six stations — New Alipurduar, Kokrajhar, New Bongaigaon and Kamakhya, including New Jalpaiguri and Guwahati junctions.
The train will depart from New Jalpaiguri at 6:10 a.m. and reach Guwahati at mid-day. From Guwahati, the Vande Bharat Express will depart at 4.30 p.m. and reach New Jalpaiguri around 10:20 p.m.