The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone and dedicated to the nation, several railway projects worth more than Rs 8000 crores in Odisha via video conferencing today. The projects include flagging off the Vande Bharat Express between Puri and Howrah, laying the foundation stone for the redevelopment of Puri and Cuttack railway stations, dedication of 100% electrification of the rail network in Odisha, doubling of the Sambalpur-Titlagarh rail line, a new broad gauge rail line between Angul – Sukinda; the third line connecting Manoharpur – Rourkela – Jharsuguda – Jamga and a new broad-gauge line between Bichhupali – Jhartarbha.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister remarked that the people of Odisha and West Bengal are being presented the Vande Bharat Express today which is a symbol of modern and aspirational India. “India’s speed and progress can be seen whenever a Vande Bharat Train runs from one place to another”, the Prime Minister said as he noted that this pace can now be witnessed in the states of Odisha and West Bengal. The Prime Minister said that this will entirely change the meaning of development along with the experience of traveling for the passengers. Be it traveling from Kolkata to Puri for darshan or the other way round, the Prime Minister informed that the travel time will now be reduced to only six and half hours, thereby saving time, giving rise to business opportunities and providing new opportunities for the youth.
The Prime Minister noted that the railway is the first choice and priority for any citizen who wishes to travel afar and mentioned the other railway development projects whose foundation stone has been laid today including the redevelopment and modernization of Puri and Cuttack Railway Stations, along with the dedication of doubling of rail lines in the region and 100 percent electrification of rail lines in Odisha.
Referring to the era of Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal, the Prime Minister emphasized the need to strengthen the unity and integrity of the country and said that the collective capabilities of the country can reach the pinnacle if the country remains totally united. He remarked that the Vande Bharat Express is a reflection of such belief where it is becoming the engine of development for the country while forwarding the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’. “The Indian Railway connects and weaves everyone together in a thread and the Vande Bharat Express will also move forward with the same idea and thought”, the Prime Minister said. He further added that the train will strengthen the spiritual and cultural connection between Puri and Howrah. The Prime Minister informed that fifteen Vande Bharat Trains are already running in various states of the country giving a push to the economy of the country
The Prime Minister said that in recent times India has maintained the speed of its development despite extremely adverse circumstances. Shri Modi credited the participation of every state in this journey and said that the country is moving forward taking every state along. The Prime Minister said that, unlike earlier times, New India is creating technology indigenously and also taking that to every nook and corner of the country. Referring to the indigenous origins of Vande Bharat Trains, the Prime Minister mentioned that India has developed technology like 5G and vaccines during the pandemic. He underlined that these innovations never remained limited to one state or city but were taken throughout the country in an equal manner. Similarly, He said Vande Bharat is touching all corners of the country.
The Prime Minister said that this policy of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas is benefitting those states, which lagged behind in development. He said that the budget for railway schemes in Odisha has increased significantly. He informed that in 10 years before 2014, only 20 km of Railway Lines were laid annually in the state, while in the year 2022-23, 120 km long lines were laid in just one year. He said long pending projects like the Khurda Bolangir line, and the Haridaspur-Paradip line, are being completed rapidly.
“Odisha is one of those states in the country where 100 percent electrification of rail lines has been achieved”, the Prime Minister remarked as he informed that work is underway at a fast pace to achieve the same feat in West Bengal. This, the Prime Minister said, has resulted in the overall increase in the speed of trains as well as saved time for freight trains. He noted that the mineral-rich state of Odisha will greatly benefit from the electrification of rail lines where pollution emanating from diesel engines will be significantly reduced and help in the industrial development of the state.
The Prime Minister also touched upon another aspect of building infrastructure which is not talked about as much. He said that infrastructure not only makes people’s lives easier but also empowers society. “The development of the people lags behind when there is a lack of infrastructure. When infrastructure is developed, the rapid development of the people takes place simultaneously”, the Prime Minister said. Highlighting the development initiatives, the Prime Minister gave the example of PM Saubhagya Yojana where the Government has provided free electricity connections to more than 2.5 crore households including about 25 lakh houses in Odisha and 7.25 lakh houses in West Bengal.
Informing that the number of airports in the country increased from 75 to 150 today, the Prime Minister drew attention to the various photographs and videos on social media where ordinary citizens of the country can be seen sharing their air travel experience
The Prime Minister said that India’s achievements in the field of infrastructure are the subject of studies today. He said when 10 lakh crores are allocated for infrastructure, that creates lakhs of jobs and railway and highway connectivity goes beyond ease of travel and connects farmers with new markets, tourists with new attractions and students with their preferred colleges.
The Prime Minister said that the country is moving with the spirit of ‘Jan Seva hi Prabhu Seva’ – Service of people is the service of god. He mentioned Temples like Jagannath and places of pilgrimage like Puri where Prasad has been distributed for centuries and thousands of poor people are fed. He said in the same spirit initiatives like PM Garib Kalyan Scheme providing free ration to 80 crore people and schemes like Ayushman Card, Ujwalla, Jal Jeevan Mission and PM Awas Yojana. “Today the poor are getting all those basic facilities for which they had to wait for years”, he said.
“Balanced development of the states is equally necessary for the rapid development of India”, the Prime Minister said as he highlighted the nation’s endeavor that no state should lag behind in the race of development due to lack of resources. That is why, the Prime Minister said, the 15th Finance Commission recommended higher budgets for states like Odisha and West Bengal. Noting that Odisha has been blessed with vast natural wealth but was deprived of its own resources due to faulty policies, the Prime Minister highlighted that the Government reformed the mining policy keeping in mind the mineral wealth which led to the considerable increase in the revenue of all the states possessing mineral wealth. He also mentioned that the income from tax has also increased after the introduction of GST. The Prime Minister stressed that the resources are being used for the development of the state and for the service of the poor in the villages. “The central government is paying full attention to ensure that Odisha can successfully combat natural calamities”, the Prime Minister said as he informed that the Government has provided more than 8 thousand crore rupees to the state for disaster management and NDRF.
Concluding the address, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that the pace of development in Odisha, West Bengal and the entire country will get a boost and we as a nation will achieve the goal of a new and developed India.
Governor of Odisha, Shri Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Naveen Patnaik, Union Minister for Railways, Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw, and Union Minister of Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan were present on the occasion among others.
The Prime Minister flagged off the Vande Bharat Express between Puri and Howrah. The train will pass through Khordha, Cuttack, Jajpur, Bhadrak, and Balasore districts in Odisha and Paschim Medinipur, and Purba Medinipur districts in West Bengal. The train will provide a faster, more comfortable and more convenient travel experience for rail users, boost tourism and promote economic development in the region.
The Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of Puri and Cuttack railway stations. The redeveloped stations will have all modern amenities providing a world-class experience to the rail passengers.
The Prime Minister dedicated 100% electrification of the rail network in Odisha. This will reduce the operating and maintenance cost and reduce reliance on imported crude oil. The Prime Minister also dedicated the doubling of the Sambalpur-Titlagarh rail line; a new broad gauge rail line between Angul-Sukinda; the third line connecting Manoharpur-Rourkela-Jharsuguda-Jamga and a new broad-gauge line between Bichhupali-Jhartarbha. These will cater to the increased traffic demands as a result of rapid industrial development in the steel, power & mining sectors in Odisha and will also help ease the pressure on passenger traffic in these rail sections.