Lucknow Dec 29 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday accused previous governments of delaying the dedicated freight corridor project and ignoring modernisation of railways, and said politics should be kept away from infrastructure development.
Inaugurating the New Bhaupur-New Khurja section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) via video conferencing, he said the 'roar' of Bharat and 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' (Self-reliant India) were clearly heard as the first freight train operated on the Khurja-Bhaupur freight section, and asserted that the corridor will also help farmers transport their harvest on time.
The prime minister also deprecated the tendency of people to target infrastructure during protests and demonstrations, saying infrastructure does not belong to any leader, political party or government but is that of the country and its citizens.
Attacking previous government on the pace of carrying out projects, Modi said the freight project was given permission in 2006 but it was only on paper as the then government lacked the 'seriousness and urgency' with which it had to take it up with the states.
Till 2014 not a single km track of the project was laid and the funds sanctioned could not be spent properly. After 2014 ,it was restarted and officials asked to take it forward and by then the budget had gone up by 11 times, he noted.
The prime minister said that on coming to power, he personally monitored the project and held a dialogue with stakeholders and got new technology as a result of which about 1100 km work got completed in the next few months.
'Imagine not a single km in eight years and 1100 km in 6 years,' he said.
The 351-km section has been built at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore. The EDFC is 1,840-km-long and extends from Ludhiana in Punjab to Kolkata in West Bengal.
Modi also inaugurated the EDFC's operation centre at Prayagraj and flagged off the first 1.5 km long goods trains.
The prime minister said political apathy not just hampered the freight corridor project but also had a bearing on the entire railways system.
Earlier the focus was on increasing number of trains for political benefit in elections but not on the tracks on which the trains were run as there was no investment on it, he said.
There was no seriousness towards modernisation of the rail network, trains were being run on slow speed and the entire network was full of dangerous unmanned crossings, he said.
'We changed this work culture and thinking after 2014 and ended the separate Railway budget, invested in rail tracks, ended unmanned crossings, focussed on broadening and electrification of the network', he said.
In the past few years, reforms have been carried out at all levels and can be seen. Be it cleanliness, better food and other facilities, the changes can be seen, he said.
“Past experience tell us that politics should be kept away from infrastructure as it is the path to development of the nation and not means of five years of politics,” he said, adding that if political parties need to compete, they should compete on quality, speed, scale of infrastructure.
Modi also slammed the tendency of targeting infrastructure during demonstrations.
“I also want to stress on another mentality which we often see during protests and demonstrations. This mentality is of harming infrastructure of the country and its property. We should remember that this infrastructure does not belong to any leader, political party or government but is that of the country and its citizens,” he said.
The sweat and money of the poor and middle class taxpayers is harmed by this. While discharging our democratic rights we should also remember our national duty, he stressed.
The prime minister noted that how the railways, which is often targeted, has helped in times of crisis was seen during the coronavirus pandemic. It brought labourers back to their homes, ferried foodgrains and medicines to the corners of the country besides functioning as corona hospitals and it will always be remembered, he said The prime minister noted that India has taken a big leap in 'atmanirbharta' (self reliance) in the field of railway related manufacturing and added that the country is not just manufacturing modern trains for its own use but also for export purposes.
In Uttar Pradesh itself, the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi has become a big center of making electric engines and the Rae Bareli rail coach factory has also made over 5000 coaches in six years and they are also being exported, he said.
Speaking on the benefits of the freight corridor, he said it will also help Kisan Rail and farmers transport their harvest on time. It will reduce the costs of logistics network thus influencing the price of goods.
It will increase the ease of doing business and attract greater foreign investment, he said.
This will also help in the smooth movement of passenger trains, he said.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was also present during the inauguration of the project through video conferencing from Lucknow, said Indian Railways was setting new records of development due to efforts of the prime minister.
Since the maximum part of this project passes through Uttar Pradesh it will help the state in a big way, he added.PTI SAB DV DV