Governor of Uttarakhand Shri Gurmeet Singh ji, popular Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Shri Pushkar Singh Dhami, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Ministers of Uttarakhand Government, various MPs, MLAs, Mayors, Zilla Parishad members, other dignitaries, and my dear brothers and sisters of Uttarakhand! Many congratulations to all the people of Uttarakhand for the Vande Bharat Express train.
This train between Delhi and Dehradun will connect the country's capital with Devbhoomi at a faster speed. Now the journey time between Delhi-Dehradun will also be reduced considerably due to this Vande Bharat train. The speed of this train is in its place, however, the facilities are also going to make the journey enjoyable.
I have just returned from a trip to three countries a few hours ago. Today the whole world is looking at India with great expectations. The way Indians have strengthened our economy, the way we are fighting poverty, it has instilled the confidence of the whole world in us. Together we succeeded in meeting the challenge of the Corona, whereas many major countries continue to grapple with it. We launched the world's largest vaccination campaign. Today India is being discussed all over the world. People from across the world want to come to India to see and understand India. In such a situation, this is a great opportunity for beautiful states like Uttarakhand. This Vande Bharat train is also going to help Uttarakhand in taking full advantage of this opportunity.
Uttarakhand is Devbhoomi. I remember when I went to visit Baba Kedar, I muttered something spontaneously. These were in the form of Baba Kedar's blessings and I had then said that this decade would be the decade of Uttarakhand. The manner, in which Uttarakhand is carrying forward the campaign of development, while keeping law and order paramount, is commendable. It is also important to preserve the identity of this Devbhoomi. And I believe that this Devbhoomi will become the center of attraction for the spiritual consciousness of the whole world in the near future. We have to develop Uttarakhand according to this potential as well.
The number of pilgrims visiting Char Dham Yatra every year is breaking all the previous records and setting new records. Right now, we can see devotees thronging to have darshan of Baba Kedar. Crores of devotees from all over the world come to the Kumbh and Ardh Kumbh held in Haridwar. Lakhs of people reach Uttarakhand during the Kanwar Yatra held every year. There are very few states in the country which attract such a large number of devotees. This number of devotees is also a gift and handling such a large number is also a herculean task. The double engine government is working with double the speed and with double the power to make this herculean task easy.
The BJP government is laying special emphasis on the Navratnas of development. The first is the reconstruction of Kedarnath-Badrinath Dham with an estimated cost of Rs 1300 crore, the second is the ropeway work of Gaurikund-Kedarnath and Govindghat-Hemkunt Sahib at a cost of Rs 2500 crore, the third is the Manaskhand Mandir Mala Mission to make the mythological temples of Kumaon grand, the fourth is promotion of home stays in the entire state. I am told that more than 4000 home stays have been registered in the state. The fifth is the development of 16 eco-tourism destinations, the sixth is the expansion of health services in Uttarakhand. A satellite center of AIIMS is also being built in Udham Singh Nagar. The seventh is the Tehri Lake Development Project costing about Rs 2000 crore, the eighth is the development of Rishikesh-Haridwar as the capital of adventure tourism and Yoga and the ninth is the Tanakpur-Bageshwar Rail Line. Work on this railway line will also start soon. You must have heard a saying – icing on the cake. Therefore, Dhami ji's government has given new impetus to the infrastructure projects here to string the garland of these Navratnas. Work on the Rs. 12,000 crore Char Dham mega project is going on at a rapid pace. With the completion of the Delhi-Dehradun Expressway, the journey between Dehradun and Delhi will become easier. Along with road connectivity, ropeway connectivity is also being developed in a big way in Uttarakhand. The Parvat Mala Yojana is going to change the fate of Uttarakhand in the near future. For this, our government is ending the wait of the people of Uttarakhand for this connectivity for years.
The Rishikesh-Karnprayag rail project will be completed in two-three years. More than 16,000 crore rupees are being spent on this project. After the completion of the Rishikesh Karnprayag Rail Project, a large part of Uttarakhand will become accessible to the people of the state and tourists. As a result, new opportunities for investment, development of industries and employment will be created here. And in the midst of this grand campaign of development of Devbhoomi, this Vande Bharat train will also prove to be a grand gift for the people of Uttarakhand.
Today Uttarakhand is fast emerging as a tourism hub, adventure tourism hub, film shooting destination and wedding destination with the efforts of the state government. Today new places and tourist hubs of Uttarakhand are attracting tourists from India and abroad. They will also get a lot of help from the Vande Bharat train. Now Vande Bharat trains have started running in every corner of the country. Trains are the first choice of people wishing to travel long distances with family. In such a situation, Vande Bharat is now becoming the first choice of ordinary families of India.
Brothers and sisters,
The 21st century India can develop more rapidly by modernizing its infrastructure. Earlier, the parties which were in power for a long time never understood this need of the country. The focus of those parties was on scams and corruption. They were confined to nepotism. They did not have the strength to come out of nepotism. The previous governments also made lofty claims regarding high speed trains in India. Many years have passed since they made these claims. Leave aside the high speed trains; they could not even remove unmanned level crossings from the rail network. The situation of railway electrification was even worse. By 2014, only one-third of the country's rail network had been electrified. In such a situation, it was impossible to even think of running a fast train. We started all-round work to transform the Railways after 2014. On the one hand, we started implementing the dream of the country's first high speed train, on the other hand, we started preparing the whole country for semi-high speed trains. When, on an average, 600 km of rail lines were electrified every year before 2014, now 6,000 kilometers of railway lines are being electrified every year. See the difference between 600 kms and 6000 kms. As a result, more than 90 percent of the country's railway network has been electrified. In Uttarakhand, 100 percent electrification of the entire rail network has been achieved.
Brothers and sisters,
This has been made possible because today there is the right intention for development, policy and trust. The increase in the railway budget in comparison to 2014 has directly benefited Uttarakhand as well. In the five years before 2014, on an average, less than Rs 200 crore was allocated for Uttarakhand. And just now Ashwini ji explained about it in detail. Less than 200 crore rupees for such a remote hilly area and lack of railways! The rail budget of Uttarakhand is 5,000 crore rupees this year. It is a 25-fold increase. This is the reason that today the railway is expanding to new areas of Uttarakhand. Not only railways, but modern highways are also expanding unprecedentedly in Uttarakhand. We understand how important this connectivity is for a hilly state like Uttarakhand. We understand the pain of how villages became deserted in the past due to lack of connectivity. We want to save the coming generation from that suffering. We are working hard today so that employment opportunities are created in Uttarakhand itself through tourism, agriculture and industries. This modern connectivity will also be very useful for easy access to our borders and convenience for our soldiers engaged in the defence of the nation.
Brothers and sisters,
Our double engine government is committed to the development of Uttarakhand. The rapid development of Uttarakhand will also help in the rapid development of India. And the country is not going to stop now as it has now gathered its momentum. The whole country is moving ahead at the speed of Vande Bharat and will continue to move ahead. Once again, many congratulations and best wishes to all of you for the first Vande Bharat Express train of Uttarakhand. And nowadays, people from all over the country are visiting Baba Kedar, Badri Vishal, Yamunotri and Gangotri. The launch of the Vande Bharat Express at the same time will be a very pleasant experience for them too. I once again bow down at the feet of Baba Kedar and greet the Devbhoomi and wish you all the very best. Thank you!