The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi on 30 December flagged off the Vande Bharat Express, connecting Howrah to New Jalpaiguri via video conferencing. The Prime Minister also inaugurated the Joka-Taratala Stretch of the Joka-Esplanade Metro Project (Purple Line). He also dedicated four railway projects to the nation including Boinchi – Shaktigarh 3rd Line, Dankuni – Chandanpur 4th Line Project, Nimtita – New Farakka Double Line and Ambari Falakata – New Maynaguri – Gumanihat Doubling Project. The Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.
Addressing the gathering, Shri Modi apologised for not being physically present today, as for him, this is the day to bow to the land of Bengal as the history of the freedom struggle is infused in every particle of Bengal. “Land from where the call of Vande Matram originated, saw the flagging off of Vande Bharat today”, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister recalled that on December 30, 1943, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose hoisted the Tricolour in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and set the wheels in motion for the independence of India. On the 75th year anniversary of this historic day, the Shri Modi informed that he got the opportunity to visit Andaman to name an island in honour of Netaji. He further added that India had taken a resolve to start 475 Vande Bharat trains during the celebrations of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and the train being flagged off today from Howrah to New Jalpaiguri is one of them.
Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi on 30 December inaugurated the Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee National Institute of Water and Sanitation (SPM-NIWAS) at Joka in Kolkata. SPM – NIWAS has been set up at a cost of around Rs. 100 Crore, on 8.72 acres of land at Joka, Diamond Harbour Road, Kolkata, West Bengal. Shri Modi said through this apex institute on Water and Sanitation, the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS) aims to bridge the knowledge and capacity building gap in the field of public health engineering, sanitation & hygiene, through short, medium & long-term courses which are not just related to engineering but also cover aspects of management, health, accounting, law and public policies. The inauguration of SPM-NIWAS was followed by a day-long national conference on ‘Drinking Water Quality– Issues & Challenges’ organized by DDWS and supported by UNICEF, INREM Foundation, WaterAid.
Nobel laureate, Professor Michael Kremer remotely addressed the conference and said if we can provide biological contamination free water, more than 1.4 lakh child deaths can be avoided annually. The concluding session of the conference was chaired by the Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. The Union Minister reiterated Prime Minister’s vision of cooperative federalism and stated that under Swachh Bharat Mission, Namami Gange, Jal Jeevan Mission, the combined efforts are being recognized around the globe.