Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday hit out at previous governments for delaying the Dedicated Freight Corridor project and ignoring modernisation of railways, and said his government engaged with stakeholders to speed up works and carried out reforms at all levels.
Inaugurating the New Bhaupur-New Khurja section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) via video conferencing, he said the “vibration” and “roar” of Bharat and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ were clearly heard as the first freight train ran on the Khurja-Bhaupur freight corridor.
Attacking previous government, the prime minister said the 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”, the prime minister said.
The 351-km section, which has been built at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore, will open new avenues for local industries in Uttar Pradesh.
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 that on coming to power, he personally monitored the project and held a dialogue with the stakeholders and got new technology as a result of which about 1100 km work will be completed in the next few months.
Political apathy not just hampered the freight corridor project but also had a bearing on the entire Railways system, he said adding that 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.
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 ending the separate Railway budget, invested in rail tracks, ended unmanned crossings, focussed on broadening and electrification of the network”, he said.
The Vande Bharat express, the semi high speed train is now being run, he said, adding that now Indian rails are more secure than before.
In the past few years reforms have been carried out at all levels and can be seen, he added.
The new freight section will open new vistas of opportunity for local industries such as aluminium industry in Pukhrayan region of Kanpur Dehat, dairy sector of Auraiya, textile production and block printing of Etawah, glassware industry of Firozabad, pottery products of Khurja, asafoetida or ‘heeng’ production of Hathras, and locks and hardware of Aligarh district, according to officials.
The section will also decongest the existing Kanpur-Delhi mainline and will enable the Indian Railways to run faster trains.
Noting that a state-of-the-art Operation Control Centre at Prayagraj will act as the command centre for the entire route length of the EDFC, they said this is one of the largest structures of its type globally with modern interiors, ergonomic design and best-in-class acoustics.
The building is environment-friendly with a green building rating of GRIHA4 and is built as per norms of the ‘Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan’, they added.
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