The Union Minister of Railways, Communications & Electronics and Information Technology, Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday conferred the ‘Ati Vishisht Rail Seva Puraskar’ (AVRSP) on 100 Railway Employees from various Zones/Divisions, Production Units & Railway PSUs all over the country for their outstanding services. He also presented 21 Shields for promoting best practices among Railway employees. The Awards/Shields were presented at the 68th Railway Week Central Function, organised at Bharat Mandapam at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. Chairperson & CEO and Members of Railway Board, General Managers of Zonal Railways and heads of Production Units of Railways and PSUs of Railways were present on the occasion.
Addressing the august gathering after conferring the awards and shields, the Union Minister for Railways, Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw congratulated all the awardees for their exceptional work and effort. He said “Transformative work is going on at full pace in Railways under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. More electrification has been done in 9.5 years than in the past 40 years. The big picture behind this transformation is, when in 2015 Prime Minister merged the Rail Budget with General Budget, interest/ capital charge which had to be paid earlier on the rail grant was not needed and it removed all financial hindrances for the railways. Lack of Investment, which was the biggest problem for railways, is now a thing of the past.”
The Union Minister asserted that “People’s expectations with the railways is being fulfilled now. PM often says this is the golden period of railways and you all are the strength behind this. This commitment of all railway employees makes everyone feel proud as we are all doing this for our nation. Railway infrastructure is being developed at record speed and scale. Several new things are happening which are helping achieve a strategic goal.”
Talking about the massive potential savings in logistics costs through Railways, Shri Vaishnaw said “Such transportation, if done by road, involves higher costs along with fuel cost. As per an estimate, there will be 3000 million tonnes of new cargo, and if railway gets half of it then it will potentially save 16,000 crore litre of fuel and Rs. 1,28,000 crore will be saved through this which will be a big achievement and saving for the nation.”
Elaborating on the economic growth of the nation, the Union Minister said that in 2014, India was on 10th spot in global economies while in 2004, India was already in the 10th spot and therefore, it was a lost decade. Now, India is at the 5th spot and in the coming years, under the leadership and vision of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, India will soon achieve the position of 3rd largest economy in the world. He further added “We should all change the colonial mindset and by 2027 we will become one of the top three. Railways will play a vital role in India’s growth journey. We are saving huge amounts in logistics costs alone. We are all lucky that we have a PM who is so emotionally attached with railways. PM has often shared so many experiences with me, that it can only come from someone who has in depth knowledge about the functioning of the Railways. He has so much commitment towards the railways, and all railway employees are part of a very committed, dedicated team which will continue to work towards development of the nation. You are all contributing highly to the building of the nation and I hope you will continue working like this with the same efficiency, motivation and dedication in the future too.” Shri Vaishnaw concluded.
In her welcome remarks, the Chairperson, Railway Board, Ms. Jaya Varma Sinha said that Indian Railways has achieved remarkable feats in the past few years, such as 34 new Vande Bharat trains for transporting passengers, 1309 stations redevelopment under Amrit Bharat which will improve overall experience and save time for passengers. Talking about Rail safety, the CRB said advance technology is being used by railways to improve overall safety including kavach which is being implemented with speed and scale. Talking about the future, she said there are lots of novel initiatives for the future which we will implement, including Mission 3000 million tonnes of freight; increasing speed in GQGD; all Unconnected regions to be connected soon including north east and Jammu Kashmir. Congratulating the awardees, Ms. Sinha said that “Excellence and commitment of all these awardees is taking railways to new heights”. “Railways will play a key role in making India ‘Viksit bharat’ or a developed nation” she added.
A short documentary on the transformation journey of Indian Railways was played and a cultural programme was also organised including a mesmerizing dance performance.