PM Modi virtually flags off Howrah-NJP Vande Bharat express

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee conveyed her gratitude to the Prime Minister for virtually participating in the event despite bereavement. PM said the launch of Vande Bharat on December 30 was significant as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had hoisted tricolour in Andamans on the same day in 1943.

Updated - December 30, 2022 08:02 pm IST

Published - December 30, 2022 12:24 pm IST

Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw stands near Vande Bharat Express train before its flagging off ceremony, at Howrah railway station in Kolkata, on December 30, 2022.

Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw stands near Vande Bharat Express train before its flagging off ceremony, at Howrah railway station in Kolkata, on December 30, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Hours after taking part in the last rites of his mother Hiraben Modi in Gandhinagar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday virtually inaugurated developmental projects to the tune of ₹7,800 crore in West Bengal, in the presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Hiraben passed away at a hospital in Ahmedabad at 3:30 a.m. She was 100. The Prime Minister was scheduled to attend a number of events in Kolkata, which included Vande Bharat Express connecting Howrah to New Jalpaiguri, the Joka-Taratala stretch of the purple line.

Leaders from across the political spectrum lauded the PM for going ahead with his official engagement despite suffering a personal loss just a few hours back. “It is a very sad day for you but you are coming virtually. It is your great honour and you pay respect through your activities to your mother. Thank you so much,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.

Speaking at the event the Prime Minister said that the Centre was making a record investment in the Indian Railways, and the latter was on the path of transformation in a new avatar.

Mr. Modi pointed out that the launch of the Vande Bharat Express on December 30 was significant as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had hoisted the tricolour in the Andamans, on the same day in 1943.

“In the past eight years the Indian Railways has worked on the foundations of modernisation and in the next eight years the Indian Railways will start a new journey towards modernisation,” PM Modi said.

Watch | Mamata to PM Modi: ‘Please take rest. I don’t know how to offer my condolences’

Mr. Modi said the proposed 475 Vande Bharat trains would play a crucial role in a new avatar, and added that trains such as Vande Bharat and Tejas were being made in the country. The PM who also laid the foundation stone of New Jalpaiguri Railway Station said it would be modernised like airports along with other stations.

Speaking about the metro railway services in the country, the PM said that in the past eight years the services had been extended to two dozen cities and the metro railway tracks were operating across 800 km. “The Joka BBG Metro project is a result of this initiative,” Mr. Modi said. During the day, metro services along the Joka BBG route were flagged off between the Joka-Taratala stations. The PM said that the Joka-Taratala metro services would ensure ease of living for Kolkata residents.

Bringing a synergy

He said that the PM Gati Shakti initiative was trying to connect and bring a synergy in the different modes of transportation in the country. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that projects worth ₹7600 crore were dedicated to the people of West Bengal by the Prime Minister.

Speaking about utilising waterways in the country Mr. Modi said that 100 waterways were being developed.

“We are working in the direction that modern cruise operates in our rivers alongside trade and tourism,” the PM said. Mr. Modi said the Centre was working on establishing a waterway link between the Ganga and Brahmaputra river with the support of the Government of Bangladesh, and a 3200 km cruise from Varanasi to Dibrugarh via Bangladesh would start on January 13, 2023.

Later in the day, Mr. Modi participated virtually in a meeting of the National Ganga Council along with the CM of West Bengal, Uttrakhand and the Minister for Water Resources Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

Speaking about the meeting, the Prime Minister said that West Bengal would have 25 new sewage treatment projects— 11 of them were already completed and seven were being launched today. Mr. Modi also added that one of the key projects in West Bengal under the Namami Ganga Mission was the restoration of the Adi Ganga river.

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