Infra development should be above politics: Modi

New Delhi (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asserted that development of infrastructure should be kept above politics and if there has to be a competition among political parties on infrastructure, it should be on its quality, speed and scale.

Modi was speaking after inaugurating the 351-km New Bhaupur-New Khurja section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) and Operation Control Centre (OCC) at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh through videoconference.

“Our past experiences tell us that the infrastructure projects related to the country’s development should be kept out of politics. The country’s infrastructure is not tied to any party’s ideology. It is not for meant for five years, but a mission to benefit the people of the country.”

He added: “If any political party has to do competition on the issue, it should be on the infrastructure’s quality, speed and scale.”

Pointing out that public property is damaged during protests or agitations on a number of occasions, the Prime Minister said that one should remember that this infrastructure does not belong to any political party or anyone, but to every citizen of India.

Highlighting the role of the Railways as the country’s lifeline, he said that it helped transport food, essential commodities and other help across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The country will always remember the help the Railways extended to the people. It ferried lakhs of people to their homes and also provided employment of more than one lakh hour mandays,” he said.

Citing the reforms in the Railways in the last six years, Modi said: “After 2014, we have done away with a separate rail budget. We ended the politics of ‘announcing and forgetting’, we eliminated thousands of unmanned level crossings, increased the speed of trains, did electrification and doubling of railway tracks.”

He said that the national transporter also started ‘Vande Bharat’ Express trains, India’s first semi-high speed trains and made rail travel safer.

“In the last few years, reforms have been carried in all aspects of Railways operations, whether it is cleanliness or safety etc. Even in manufacturing, we took a big leap towards ‘self-reliant India’ as we are now manufacturing coaches and also exporting the same to other countries,” the Prime Minister said.

Highlighting the importance of EDFC, Modi said: “After Independence, we are witnessing the inauguration of the most advanced rail section in the country. The first goods train on the New Bhaupur-Khurja section will give out a message of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India). The new operation control centre in Prayagraj is one of the best in the world.”

The Prime Minister pointed out that at a time when India is moving towards becoming an economic power in the world, best connectivity is its priority.

“With this ideology, we have worked on every aspect of modern connectivity in the country over the last six years,” Modi said.

The Dedicated Freight Corridor is one of the largest rail infrastructure projects undertaken by the government, entailing a cost of around Rs 81,459 crore.

The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) has been set up as a Special Purpose Vehicle to plan, develop, mobilise financial resources, construct, maintain and operate the EDFC.

In the first phase, the organisation will construct the Western DFC (1,504 route km) and Eastern DFC (1,856 route km), a total of 3,360 route km.

The Prime Minister said that special corridors for freight trains would ensure that passenger trains run on time. “It will also ensure that carriage trains run at thrice the speed and carry double their load capacity,” Modi said.

He said that the ‘Kisan rail’ would also benefit from these freight corridors.

Meanwhile, Alain Sphor, Alstom Managing Director for India and South Asia, said that the company teams had done an outstanding job, with many firsts in India on this first fully electrified section of DFC.

“This is a good reference of Alstom’s commitment to ‘Make in India’ initiative. The design and engineering for OHE electrification, civil, power supply and signalling has been done indigenously. This begins a new era of freight rail revolution that all stakeholders have envisioned jointly. It is indeed an honour to be partnering in India’s Make in India mission,” Sphor added.

In 2015, Alstom won the contract worth over 200 million euros for electrification, signalling and telecommunications system work on the 343-km eastern portion of the DFC.

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