The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today dedicated to the nation, the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Udhampur railway line.
The Prime Minister flagged off the first train to Udhampur, from Katra Railway Station, and spoke to schoolchildren on board the train. The train was flagged off amid vociferous chants of "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" by the children.
The Prime Minister also went around the Railway Station and suggested that solar energy be used to meet the energy requirements of the station. Let Katra Railway Station be an environment-friendly, people-friendly railway station that inspires the use of solar energy, Shri Modi said.
Later addressing a public function at Katra, the Prime Minister observed that with the ongoing Amarnath Yatra, and the holy month of Ramzan, and now this new railway line that brings Shri Mata Vaishno Devi closer to her devotees, it has become an extremely pious occasion. This railway line is not just a gift to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Shri Modi said, but to the entire nation, to 125 crore Indians who wish to come to the shrine, and I am proud to be placing this gift before them, he said. He added that he had suggested to the Railway Minister that this train be called Shri Shakti Express. He also congratulated the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board for facilities and technology used at the railway station for the benefit of the devotees.
The Prime Minister said that Jammu and Kashmir's development will continue unhindered. And even with the new railway station at Katra, it will in fact be a more qualitative development.
The Prime Minister said his Government would work towards a common development model for Himalayan states from Jammu and Kashmir to the north-east.
He said Katra is now coming to the centre-stage in J&K's development, and will contribute as an engine of growth for the state. He said his Government will continue to work towards fulfilling Shri Vajpayee's dream, by extending the line to Banihal.
Shri Modi also highlighted the fact that rail and bus connectivity have been combined for the first time. A passenger will be able to travel on both bus and train through a single ticket. He described this as a hybrid model. He also observed that Katra is being connected to the rest of the country through six pairs of trains.
The Prime Minister assured the people of India that modernization of railway stations in metro cities and important destinations like Jammu is a priority for his Government.
Speaking of the significance of the day, Shri Modi said "Today brings speed to the state of Jammu and Kashmir through this rail link, and energy through the Uri-II hydro-electric project, which I shall be inaugurating later in the day. I am beginning my "Vikas Yatra" - development journey - for the country with the blessings of Mata Vaishno Devi." He said that his Government will take this Vikas Yatra forward, establish new standards, and work for benefit of the common man. "My objective is to win the hearts of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, through development, and through their benefit", Shri Modi said, and added that the intention is not political win or loss. He said the state of Jammu and Kashmir has passed through a difficult time; whether or not in power, it is our wish and our responsibility to improve the quality of life of the people, meet their aspirations, provide jobs to youth, and reach the last man in the line.
The Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Shri N.N. Vohra, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Shri Omar Abdullah, the Minister for Railways, Shri Sadananda Gowda, the MoS Railways, Shri Manoj Sinha, the MoS PMO Shri Jitendra Singh, and Shri Arunendra Kumar were present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Omar Abdullah said the credit for bringing Railways to the state should go, first of all, to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He also requested further expansion of the rail network in the state, and for the upgradation of Jammu Railway Station.
The Railway Minister Shri Sadananda Gowda said the wish of the devotees of Mata Vaishno Devi was being fulfilled after a long time. MoS PMO Shri Jitendra Singh remarked that the wish of the devotees of Mata Vaishno Devi had been fulfilled by Shri Modi after becoming Prime Minister, in his first visit to the state.
In his concluding remarks, the Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Arunendra Kumar assured the Prime Minister that Katra Railway Station would be developed as a model solar energy station.