After taking part in the last rites of his mother Hiraben Modi in Gandhinagar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday virtually flagged off Vande Bharat express connecting Howrah and New Jalpaiguri in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Hiraben passed away at a hospital in Ahmedabad at 3.30 a.m. She was 100.
Mr. Modi also dedicated 25 new projects in West Bengal under Namami Ganga Project. One of the key projects is restoration of Adi Ganga river.
“In the 21st century, Government is making massive infrastructure in Indian Railways. Trains like Vande Bharat and Tejas being made in the country. Railway stations are being modernised like Airports, New Jalpaiguri Station is also being developed on those lines. In the past eight years Indian Railways have worked on the theme of modernisation. In the past eight years we have extended Metro Services to two dozen cities. Joka BBD Metro is a step in that direction,” said Mr. Modi while virtually addressing Indian Railway event at Howrah.
Ms. Banerjee conveyed her gratitude to Prime Minister for virtually participating in the event. “It is very sad day for you…please take rest. I don’t know how to express my condolences to you”.
Also present on the occasion were Governor C.V. Ananda Bose and Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.
The blue-and-white train, which covers a distance of 564 km in 7.45 hours, will save three hours of travel time compared to other trains on the route, officials said. It will have three stoppages at Barsoi, Malda and Bolpur.
The Vande Bharat express with modern passenger amenities is likely to be preferred both by regular passengers, tea industry executives and tourists travelling to the Himalayas in North Bengal and Sikkim.
The state-of-the-art train has 16 coaches, including two for drivers.
High drama during flagging of Vande Bharat express
There was commotion at Howrah Station during flagging of Vande Bharat express. Ms. Banerjee seemed upset by the loud sloganeering from a section of the invited crowd at the railway station.
Attempts by the Railway Minister and the Governor to pacify her did not bear fruit, as the chief minister refused to take her seat on the stage and chose to seat on a chair along with the audience.
(With inputs from PTI)
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