India: PM flags off Vande Bharat Express, Kochi Water Metro in Kerala

Modi, who dedicated projects worth more than Rs32 billion, said the central government believes that if the states develop, it will help in the development of the country


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Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with students in Kerala’s first Vande Bharat Express train at Thiruvananthapuram Central Station on Tuesday. — PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with students in Kerala’s first Vande Bharat Express train at Thiruvananthapuram Central Station on Tuesday. — PTI

Published: Tue 25 Apr 2023, 7:06 PM

Last updated: Tue 25 Apr 2023, 7:07 PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday flagged off Kerala's first Vande Bharat Express and dedicated to the nation various developmental projects, including the Kochi Water Metro, and said as states develop, the country will develop faster.

The PM laid foundation stone and dedicated projects worth more than Rs32 billion at the Central Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram.

He said the central government lays emphasis on cooperative federalism and believes that if the states develop, it will help in the development of the country.

"The central government lays emphasis on cooperative federalism. It believes that development of the states is the key to the development of the nation. So if Kerala develops, only then will India develop faster," Modi said.

On a two-day visit of the southern state starting Monday, the PM earlier today flagged off the state's maiden Vande Bharat Express service, which will connect the state capital with Kasaragod, Kerala's northernmost district.

Addressing a massive crowd at the stadium, Modi — dressed in a traditional Kerala attire of 'kasavu' mundu, shawl and kurta — said Keralites were literate, hardworking, capable, intellectual and aware about the economic situations in the countries across the world.

Despite global headwinds, India has been globally seen as the 'Vibrant Spot of Development', Modi said.

The PM added there were several reasons behind the world's belief in India and these were a decisive government at the Centre, unparalleled investments in the infrastructure development by it, investments for reaping demographic dividend, skilling of youth and the central government's commitment to 'Ease of Living' and 'Ease of Doing Business'.

He said one of the reasons for the growing stature of the country was the outreach efforts of the central government and it has benefited the Keralites living abroad.

"India’s growing might is helping the Indian diaspora greatly," he said.

Referring to development in the country, Modi said that in the last nine years, work on connectivity infrastructure has been undertaken at an "unprecedented speed and scale".

He said that in order to keep up the momentum, over Rs10 trillion has been earmarked in this year's budget for developing infrastructure.

Regarding the development of railways in Kerala, Modi said that compared to funds allocated to the state in the rail budget prior to 2014, the amounts have increased five-fold now.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw echoed similar views when said at the event that prior to 2014 the southern state got only Rs3.70 billion for railway development, whereas this year the allocation stood at Rs20 billion.

Both the PM and Vaishnaw highlighted the work being carried out to enhance the speed of trains, like Vande Bharat Express, on the tracks in the state.

Vaishnaw said that within the next 18-24 months, the Vande Bharat service in Kerala can touch 100kmph speed and clock about 150kmph in 36 to 48 months.

Besides that, world class signalling and automatic train protection systems, railway stations and other facilities would be added to the rail infrastructure in the state, he said.

The PM in his speech said that major railway stations in Kerala would soon be transformed into multimodal transport hubs.

He also referred to the Vande Bharat Express and said that it will ease travel to places of pilgrimage like Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kannur and without harming the environment.

Modi further said that efforts were on to provide Made in India solutions as per local needs with regard to infrastructure.

Citing examples like semi-hybrid train, Regional Rapid Transport System, Ro-Ro ferry, and ropeway, he said these were situation-specific solutions that were made in India to address connectivity problems.

Even the coaches of the Vande Bharat and the Kochi Water Metro and Kochi Metro were made in India, he said.

Modi further said that not just physical connectivity but digital connectivity too was a priority for the country.

"Projects like Digital Science Park in Thiruvananthapuram will give a fillip to Digital India," he said and highlighted the global appreciation for India’s digital system.

The PM said investments made towards connectivity not only expand the scope of services but also reduce the distance between various cultures without discriminating between caste and creed or the rich and poor.

"This is the correct model of development which can be witnessed all over India and it strengthens the spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat," he said.

He also said that Kerala has a lot to offer the country and the world and events like the recent G20 held in the state will give it more global exposure.

Modi exhorted everyone to give prominence to indigenous products by being "vocal about local" produce.

"When our products reach global markets, the path of Viksit Bharat will get stronger", he said.

He concluded his speech by asking everyone to work together and dedicate themselves to building a developed India.

Earlier, after Modi landed at the Thiruvananthapuram airport, his journey to the Central Railway Station was akin to a roadshow as thousands lined up on the roadsides, hours in advance, to greet him and showered him with flowers as his cavalcade passed them.

The PM briefly stood on the footboard of his vehicle, surrounded by SPG personnel, to wave at the public as well as party workers and supporters on the roadside who cheered him on with drum beats and chants of 'Modi'.

There were shouts of 'jai jai Modi' at the stadium and the railway station when he arrived at both the locations.

Prior to flagging off the Vande Bharat Express from Platform 1 of the railway station at Thiruvananthapuram, he interacted with a group of schoolchildren inside one of the coaches of the train.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor were also present with the PM as he interacted with the students inside the train and later at the stadium when Modi dedicated various projects to the nation.

The entire state capital was under a tight security net, with deployment of hundreds of police personnel and stringent traffic restrictions, as the PM travelled from the airport to the railway station.

The Vande Bharat Express, which will connect the state capital with the northern-most Kasaragod district of Kerala, has been projected by many as an alternative to the LDF government's ambitious semi-high speed rail corridor, SilverLine.

At the Central Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram, Modi dedicated to the nation the Kochi Water Metro and laid foundation stones of various projects, like the electrified Dindigul-Palani-Palakkad section and the country's first Digital Science Park.

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