ITANAGAR, Feb 20 (IANS): In a historic development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday flagged off the first express train from Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh to New Delhi.
Modi, who arrived in Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar to participate in the state's 29th foundation day, flagged off the Naharlagun-New Delhi Express by pressing a button at a function held in Indira Gandhi Park in Itanagar.
The prime minister hoped the boost in communication through the railway will propel growth and development in Arunachal Pradesh and other parts of the Northeast.
Modi, who was accompanied by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, also inaugurated an inter-city train between Naharlagun and Guwahati and laid the foundation stone of 132 KV power transmission project and another project to avail pure drinking water for the residents of capital town.
Modi's visit assumes significance as President Pranab Mukherjee's visit to the state last year had drawn sharp reactions from China, which has often laid claim to the state.
"Arunachal Pradesh is the largest state in northeast in terms of area. There is less population here but tremendous potential for growth. I assure you that you will witness more development in the state in next five years than it had seen in last 28 years," Modi said while addressing a huge crowd.
"The Naharlagun-New Delhi AC express train is a gift of the government of India to the people of Arunachal Pradesh on its 29th statehood day. Railways is not merely a mode of communication. The railway network is the spine of development," he said, adding that the connectivity will help the state in many ways in achieving new milestones of development.
"The railway and electricity are very important for development. The railway will give speed and the project for 132 KV power transmissions will give power to the state, which also plays a vital role in development," said the prime minister.
Modi also took up the issue of hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh and apprehensions of a section of people over those and said that Nepal and Bhutan also had similar problems in the past, which they have overcome.
"In India, Himachal Pradesh has succeeded in harnessing its power potential to a great extent. Similarly, Arunachal Pradesh also has tremendous power potentials and it can light up the entire country by connecting with it," he said and added that utmost care should be given while dealing with those people who will be affected due to the power projects.
"We must ensure that the affected people gets the maximum benefits and that we have to ensure a better life for them than they used to have," he said.
"In 2014-15 budget, we have allocated Rs.53,000 crore for the northeastern states. This is not a small amount but we must ensure proper utilization of the amount. Governments -- be it at the state or the centre, must be answerable to the people," he said while urging the people to demand transparency and clarity in implementation of projects.
Modi also announced that there will be 18 new FM channels waiting to be started in the region and the government will set up six new agricultural universities in the region.
"The northeastern states use less fertiliser in farming and it has the potential to become the capital or organic farming in the entire country," he said.