Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday flagged off the 7th Vande Bharat express, connecting Howrah to New Jalpaiguri (NJP) via video conferencing from New Delhi. He also inaugurated the Joka-Taratala stretch of the Joka-Esplanade metro project (purple line) and dedicated four railway projects to the nation, besides laying the foundation stone for the redevelopment of the New Jalpaiguri railway station.
7th Vande Bharat express to pass through Bihar
Though the Vande Bharat in its inaugural run will complete the journey from Howrah to New Jalpaiguri in ten hours with 18 stoppages in routes, it will have only three stoppages once it begins the commercial operation from January 1. The train will cover the distance of about 600 miles in 7.50 hours with two-minute stoppages at Bolpur, Malda Town (West Bengal) and Barsoi (Bihar) before reaching New Jalpaiguri. There are 14 trains on the route, which take around 10.45 hours to cover the distance.
WB, the land where call of Vande Matram originated: PM
Addressing the gathering, the PM apologised for not being physically present today, as for him, this is the day to bow to the land of Bengal as the history of the freedom struggle is infused in every particle of Bengal. “Land from where the call of Vande Matram originated, saw the flagging off of Vande Bharat today”, said Modi, while recalling how on December 30, 1943, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose hoisted the tricolour in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and set the wheels in motion for the independence of India.
On the 75th year anniversary of this historic day, the PM said that he got the opportunity to visit Andaman to name an island in honour of Netaji. He further added that India had taken a resolve to start 475 Vande Bharat trains during the celebrations of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and the train being flagged off today from Howrah to New Jalpaiguri is one of them. Mentioning the multiple projects whose foundation stones are being laid and inaugurated today, the Prime Minister said that the government is spending approximately ₹5000 crores for the completion of these projects.
25 sewage projects approved for Bengal
Modi said many projects pertaining to the cleanliness of the Ganga and drinking water to West Bengal would be launched today. More than 25 sewage projects have been approved in West Bengal under the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) scheme. Out of which 11 projects are already complete and seven are being completed today. Work on 5 new schemes with an outlay of ₹1500 crore is starting today.
Joka-Esplande metro projects also flagged off
The Prime Minister also inaugurated the Joka-Taratala stretch of Joka-Esplanade metro project (purple line). The 6.5 km stretch having six stations namely Joka, Thakurpukur, Sakher Bazar, Behala Chowrasta, Behala Bazar and Taratala has been constructed at a cost of more than ₹2475 Crore. Passengers of southern parts of Kolkata City like Sarsuna, Dakghar, Muchipara and South 24 Parganas will be immensely benefited from the inauguration of this project.
Four other railway projects opened
The Prime Minister also dedicated four railway projects to the nation. These include the Boinchi – Shaktigarh 3rd Line developed at a cost of ₹405 crore; the Dankuni – Chandanpur 4th Line Project developed at a cost of ₹565 crore; Nimtita – New Farakka Double Line developed at a cost of ₹254 crore; and Ambari Falakata – New Maynaguri – Gumanihat Doubling Project developed at a cost of more than ₹1080 crore. The PM also laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of the New Jalpaiguri Railway station to be developed at the cost of more than ₹335 crore.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Governor C V Ananda Bose, Union railway minister Ashwini Vaisnav, were those present on occasion among others.