INDIA. Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday flagged off two Vande Bharat trains from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSTM) to Solapur and Shirdi, from CSTM in South Mumbai, thus taking the number of Vande Bharat trains in the country to ten.
Addressing the gathering, PM Modi said that these trains, equipped with all modern amenities, will connect major pilgrimage centers, including Saibaba’s shrine at Shirdi and Lord Vithal’s shrine at Pandharpur in Solapur. These trains will give a boost to tourism and will also connect economic centres like Mumbai and Pune.
Referring to the recent Union budget, PM Modi said that for the first time, a provision of Rs 10 lakh crore has been made for infrastructure. This is a Rs 2.5 lakh crore component of the rail budget. Before 2014, this provision used to be very negligible. He added that the hike is now more than five times longer.
He said earlier, the UPA government used to charge nearly 20 percent income tax. Whereas the NDA government has now extended income tax relief up to Rs 7 lakh per year, enormous relief for the salaried class, the business class, and everyone else. Those earning Rs 60,000 to Rs 65,000 per month can now invest significantly.
Referring to the Vande Bharat trains, he said that today 108 districts in 17 states in the country have been connected by Vande Bharat trains, ensuring the best connectivity. “There is a focus on improving public transportation,” he added.
PM Modi also digitally opened the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR) bridge to traffic on this occasion. The 3.8-kilometer-long SCLR expansion bridge begins close to the Kapadia intersection and terminates on the Western Expressway close to the Vakola junction.
He also inaugurated the Kurar underpass at Malad in north Mumbai. These two projects would ensure smooth movement of two lakh vehicles per day, facilitating the most sought-after east-west connectivity in Mumbai. The infrastructure development increases the earning capacity of the poor, middle class, and business class since it gives a boost to ancillary industries, PM added.
Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis, mentioned that a provision of Rs 13,500 crore has been made for Maharashtra in the Union budget, which would give a boost to development in the state. All 124 railway stations, including CSTM, will be modernised.
He also paid rich tributes to philanthropist Nana Shankar Shet, who was instrumental in laying the foundation for railways in the country. Fadnavis also profusely thanked PM Modi for giving the lion’s share of the budget.
Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that earlier (2009–2014), Maharashtra used to get barely Rs 1100 crore in the railway budget. Today, that provision has been increased in multiples.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde mentioned the tremendous boost the infrastructure projects in Maharashtra are getting due to PM Modi. “While the Union Government intends to build a $5 trillion economy by 2025, Maharashtra intends to contribute up to $1 trillion,” he added.
Union Ministers Narayan Rane and Ramdas Athavale, local MPs, and others were present on the dais. Modi was greeted enthusiastically by BJP workers present at the venue.
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