508 Railway Stations Redevelopment: In a historic move, the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of 508 Railway Stations across the country via video conferencing today. Redeveloped at a cost of more than Rs 24,470 crores, these 508 stations are spread across 27 states and union territories, including 55 each in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, 49 in Bihar, 44 in Maharashtra, 37 in West Bengal, 34 in Madhya Pradesh, 32 in Assam, 25 in Odisha, 22 in Punjab, 21 each in Gujarat and Telangana, 20 in Jharkhand, 18 each in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, 15 in Haryana, 13 in Karnataka among others.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister remarked that the new India which is fast moving towards the goal of Viksit Bharat is on the onset of Amrit Kaal. “There is new energy, new inspirations and new resolutions”, the Prime Minister said underlining that it is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Indian Railway. He informed that almost 1300 prime railway stations in the country will now be redeveloped with modernity as ‘Amrit Bharat Stations’ and will get a new lease of life. Out of the 1300 railway stations, the Prime Minister informed, the foundation stone for 508 Amrit Bharat Stations is being laid today at the cost of approx Rs 25,000 crores.
He emphasized that the redevelopment project will be a huge campaign for infrastructure development in the country along with the railways as well as the common citizens. Noting that its benefits will be spread to all states in the country, the Prime Minister mentioned that 55 Amrit Stations will be developed at the cost of approx Rs 4,000 crores in Uttar Pradesh, and in Rajasthan also 55 stations will become Amrit Stations, 34 stations in Madhya Pradesh at the cost of approx Rs 1,000 crores, 44 stations in Maharashtra at the cost of 1,500 crores, and prime railway stations in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala among others will be redeveloped. The Prime Minister praised the Ministry of Railways and congratulated the citizens for this historic project.
The Prime Minister underlined the growing stature of India in the world and highlighted the growing global interest in India. He credited two major factors for this. First, the election of a stable full majority government by the people of India and, second, the government took ambitious decisions and worked relentlessly for the development of the people in accordance with their aspirations. He emphasized that Indian railways too symbolizes this. He presented the facts of the expansion of the rail sector to illustrate his points. He said that in the last 9 years, the length of track laid in the country is more than the combined railway network in South Africa, Ukraine, Poland, the UK and Sweden.
Putting the scale of expansion in Indian railways in perspective, the Prime Minister further said that in the last year alone, India laid more railway tracks than the combined railway network of South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. Today, he said, the government is working to make the rail journey accessible as well as pleasant. “The effort is to provide the best possible experience from train to station”, he added. He mentioned better seating on platforms, upgraded waiting rooms and free wifi on thousands of stations.
Underlining the vast developments that have taken place in Indian Railways, the Prime Minister said that any PM would want to speak about these achievements from the Red Fort. However, the Prime Minister also emphasized that it is due to the grand organization of today’s event that he is reflecting on the achievements of Railways in great detail today itself.
The Prime Minister referred to the railway’s status as the lifeline of the country and said along with this, the identity of the cities is also linked with the railway stations which have become the heart of the city with the passing of time. This has made it imperative to provide a modern form to the stations.
The Prime Minister said that the modernization of so many stations will create a new atmosphere for development in the country as they will create a good first impression among the visitors. Upgraded stations will not only increase tourism but will also give a push to economic activities in the nearby areas. He said the ‘One Station One Product’ scheme will help the artisans and will help in the branding of the district.
The Prime Minister emphasized that the country has also taken the resolution to take pride in one’s heritage in the Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal. “These Amrit Railway stations will be a symbol of taking pride in one’s heritage and instill pride in every citizen”, Shri Modi said.
The Prime Minister said that the Amrit Stations will present a glimpse of India’s cultural and local heritage. Giving examples, the Prime Minister mentioned that Jaipur Railway Stations will have glimpses of Hawa Mahal and Amer Fort from Rajasthan, Jammu Tawi Railway Station in Jammu and Kashmir will be inspired by the famous Raghunath Mandir and Dimapur Station of Nagaland will showcase the local architecture of 16 different tribes from the region. He stated that every railway station will be a symbol of the modern aspirations of the country along with its ancient heritage. The Prime Minister mentioned strengthening the ‘Bharat Gaurav Yatra Trains’ which connects places of historical relevance and pilgrimages.
Underlining the Railways’ role in giving momentum to the economic growth of the country, the Prime Minister said that record investment has been done in railways. This year, Railways received a budget of more than Rs 2.5 lakh crores, a five-fold increase as compared to 2014. Today, he said, work is being done for the complete development of Railways with a holistic approach. Locomotive production increased by 9 times in the last 9 years. Today 13 times more HLB coaches are being manufactured.
Talking about the railway extension in the Northeast, the Prime Minister said, work is going on rapidly on doubling of the lines, gauge conversion, electrification and new routes. “Soon, all state capitals of the Northeast will be connected by railway network”, Shri Modi said. He informed that Nagaland got its second station after 100 years. “Commissioning of new railway lines in the region has increased three times”, he said.
The Prime Minister informed that in the last 9 years more than 2200 km dedicated freight corridors have been constructed leading to a reduction in the travel time of the goods train. Now goods reach western ports from Delhi NCR in 24 hours, a task that used to take 72 hours. 40 percent reduction in time has been witnessed on the other routes also which is hugely benefitting the entrepreneurs, industrialists and farmers.
Pointing out the difficulties faced due to the lack of Railway bridges, the Prime Minister informed that there were less than 6000 railway overbridges and underbridges before 2014, but today, that number has gone beyond 10,000. He also mentioned that the number of unmanned level crossings on large lines is now down to zero. Speaking about the convenience for passengers, the Prime Minister underlined that special emphasis is being laid upon the needs of the elderly and divyang.
“Our emphasis is on making Indian Railways modern as well as environment friendly”, the Prime Minister said as he informed that 100 percent rail line electrification will be achieved very soon which will result in all the trains in India running only on electricity. The Prime Minister also mentioned that the number of stations that generate electricity from solar panels has increased to more than 1200 in the last 9 years.
The Prime Minister emphasized that the government aims to produce green energy from every railway station in the near future. He also mentioned that LED lights have been installed in about 70,000 coaches and the number of bio-toilets in trains has increased 28 times as compared to 2014. Shri Modi underlined that all the Amrit stations will be built to meet the standards of green buildings. “By 2030, India will be a country whose railway network will run on net zero emissions”, he added.
The Prime Minister said, “Rail has worked for decades to connect us with our loved ones, it has worked to connect the country. Now it is our responsibility to connect the rail with a better identity and modern future.” He lamented the opposition to projects like the new Parliament Building, Kartavya Path, war memorial and Statue of Unity. “Away from negative politics, we have taken the task of nation’s development as a mission and given it the top priority irrespective of vote bank and party politics”, he said.
Highlighting that railways has provided jobs to more than 1.5 lakh youth alone, the Prime Minister said that employment is also being created by investing lakhs of crores on infrastructure. At present, the Prime Minister said, the central government is also running a campaign to provide jobs to 10 lakh youth through Rozgar Mela. “This is the picture of a changing India where development is giving way to new opportunities for the youth, and the youth are giving new wings to the development of the country”, he added.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the presence of many freedom fighters and several Padma awardees in this program to bless the occasion. Highlighting the significance of the month of August for every Indian, the Prime Minister said that it is the month of revolution, gratitude and duty and filled with many historical occasions which gave a new direction to the history of India. The Prime Minister mentioned National Handloom Day which is celebrated on August 7 and dedicated to the Swadeshi movement.
“This date of 7th August is the day for every Indian to reiterate the resolution of being Vocal for Local”, Shri Modi said. He also mentioned the holy festival of Ganesh Chaturthi and stressed the need to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in an eco-friendly way. The Prime Minister suggested trying out idols made of eco-friendly material. He also suggested buying products made by local artisans, handicrafts men and small entrepreneurs.
Speaking about the 9th of August, the Prime Minister said that it was the historic date when the Quit India movement began and it created new energy in India\’s struggle for independence. Inspired by this, the Prime Minister said that today the whole country is roaring Quit India for every evil, corruption, dynasty and appeasement.
The Prime Minister mentioned the upcoming Partition Horror Remembrance Day and said that we remember countless people who paid a huge cost of the partition and acknowledged the contribution of the people who gathered themselves after the shock and are contributing to the development of the country. He said that this day gives us the responsibility of keeping our unity intact. Shri Modi said “Our Independence Day is the time to reiterate our commitment towards our Tricolor and the progress of our nation. Like last year, this time also, we have to hoist the tricolor at every house.” He noted the people’s enthusiasm on social media and in flag marches and appealed to everyone to get associated with the campaign.
The Prime Minister underlined that the government has changed the perception that the tax paid by citizens is squandered in corruption and today people feel that their money is being used for nation-building. He noted that the number of people paying taxes is increasing due to the increasing facilities and Ease of Living. The Prime Minister mentioned the time when income of Rs 2 lakh was taxed in the country while income up to Rs 7 lakh is not taxed today. Despite this, the Prime Minister said, the amount of income tax collected in the country is increasing, and sending a clear message that the scope of the middle class in the country is continuously increasing.
He informed that the number of people filing income tax returns has increased by 16% this year which shows the growth of trust in the government and the innovation taking place in the country. Today people are seeing how railways are being rejuvenated in the country, Metro is expanding. He mentioned the development of new expressways and airports and said that such changes embolden the feeling of a new India being developed with the taxpayers’ money. Concluding the address, the Prime Minister said, “The modernization of these 508 railway stations is also a step taken in this direction. I assure you, Amrit Bharat Stations will take this transformation of Indian Railways to a new height.”