Younger brother to me personally to all of us and over the last almost 35 years, has guided me all through my life in every step that I have taken and I shall eternally be grateful to you Venkaiahji for all your guidance, for your blessings, and for your support in my professional world, political world, personal life.
Dr. P. Narayana Garu, Hon’ble Minister, Government of Andhra Pradesh; Shri S.C. Reddy Garu, Hon’ble Minister, Government of Andhra Pradesh; Shri N. Raghavendra Reddy Garu, Zila Parishad Chairman SPS, Nellore; Shri Abdul Aziz Garu, Hon’ble Mayor of Nellore; Shri Prabhakar Reddy Vemireddy Garu, Hon’ble MP Rajya Sabha; Shri Vishnu Raja, MLA Andhra Pradesh; Shri P. Anil Kumar Garu, Hon’ble MLA Nellore city; Shri Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy Garu, Shri Varaprasad Rao Garu; colleagues who have been in the Parliament with us, other distinguished citizens of Nellore, of Andhra Pradesh – on the dais, off the dais, ladies and gentlemen.
For me it is a privilege to come once again to Nellore city which is the birthplace – both of Potti Sreeramulu Garu and Shri Venkaiah Naidu Garu. I am happy to be here for the inauguration of several new initiatives of the Indian Railways, for the foundation stone laying ceremony of several new projects that we are starting in Nellore and for the dedication of development works in Nellore, in Tirupati, in this region – totalling Rs 1,830 crore.
We are all aware that Hon’ble Vice President of India Venkaiah Garu has been a part of the life of Nellore right from his birth. He was born in a humble agricultural family in Nellore district – a dedicated visionary and true son of Nellore, a true son of Mother India. He started his journey as a young party worker and, in fact, even before that, in his student days he worked as a Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad Karyakarta. And right from his student days, his value systems of nationalism, his work dedicated to the nation has been recognized by one and all across the country.
In fact, very often when we read about Venkaiah Garu, we hear that he started his life posting pictures of Shraddya Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji in Nellore seeking support for Vajpayee Ji. And from that humble beginning, we are extremely proud to have him today as our Hon’ble Vice President of the world’s largest democracy – India.
When he was Minister in the central government, Venkaiah Garu pioneered and launched several new urban development missions – the Smart City mission is his brainchild, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana was started by Venkaiah Garu. The Swachh Bharat Mission was initiated with the blessings and vision, and guidance of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi by Hon’ble Shri Venkaiah Naidu Ji. The AMRUT Mission for the heritage cities – the HRIDAY Mission – all of these are projects that have been started by Venkaiah Garu. And have been taken forward in great speed by the government of India. Truly, he is an inspiration to all of us.
Today, when I am in Nellore district – this is my second visit to Nellore. I pay homage to Amarajeevi Potti Sreeramulu Garu, whose fast unto death was the supreme sacrifice that led to the creation of Andhra Pradesh. Along with the Venkaiah Garu, I had visited Krishnapatnam town also in Nellore district on 27th February, 2016, nearly three years ago, when we inaugurated the Damodaram power plant. At that time, I used to be the Power Minister.
Since then, the Nellore district has made all of us proud after the launch of 104 satellites in one single rocket from Sriharikota on 15th February, 2017. In fact, today, Nellore is known internationally, and in some sense, all these three events happened in the month of February. The power plant also in February ’16, the launch of rockets in February ’17, and today, in February 2019, we are doing a slew of railway projects that we are going to start today or we are going to launch today.
The South Central Railway as the General Manager Mr. Mallya just mentioned was formed on 2nd October, 1966 on Gandhi Jayanti Day. It is one of the best performing zones on Indian Railways and has the second rank in station cleanliness in the last survey that we did in 2018. I am sure that will be something Venkaiah Garu will be very proud of because Swachhata is very dear to him. Even if you are walking along with him and he sees something, he will bend down and pick it up but he will not leave it over there. And that is the spirit we are trying to inculcate in the entire railways and, today, station cleanliness, train cleanliness, our own offices of the Railways – we are trying to do better and better and South-Central Railway itself which was fourth rank in 2017 is now the 2nd rank and I hope they will all work to become the first rank in the next survey that will come out for 2019.
In fact, we can pay no better tribute to Mahatma Gandhi Ji on whose Jayanti we started this South Central Railway than achieving Swachhata not only in Railways but in the entire country. In fact, we are celebrating 150th birth celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi Ji – Gandhi 150 Samaroh, which we are celebrating this year. We can pay no better tribute to him than making our country a clean country. Towards that end, the Railways also has made some very game-changing initiatives.
We have apart from the cleanliness of all stations, we are also converting all the toilets to bio-toilets, so that the railway tracks are not soiled and we are able to keep the entire railway system clean. Similarly, mechanized cleaning is going to hundred per cent in the Railways. So, all the linen that you use – bed sheets, bed covers, the pillow covers, napkins – all will be cleaned in mechanized laundries.
We are setting up CCTV cameras first in all the railway stations, then in all the trains so that cleanliness can also be monitored while providing safety and security to our passengers, and for all of this, we have a continuous citizen feedback mechanism.
In fact, the guiding principle by which we have worked is ‘Jan Bhaghidari’ – citizens’ participation by which we believe that we can really take the Railways to the next level. I would like to recall what Prime Minister Modi had said on 20th July 2018 in Parliament, and I quote, “I want to assure people of Andhra Pradesh that they will not be left behind and the government will ensure their welfare and development.”
The Railways also is firmly committed to the cause of Andhra Pradesh’s development, growth and prosperity. In fact, the number of projects that we are launching today, as I said, a total of 1,830 crores will be spent ushering in a new era of speed, safety and service for the people of Andhra Pradesh, for the citizens of Nellore. Of course, the commissioning of the new line between Venkatachalam- Pelicula-Obulavaripalli Culo-Cherlapalli at an investment of 1,500 crores is going to be a landmark achievement for this region. There is a separate ceremony after this where we will be announcing the commissioning.
This will help in decongesting the main route of Chennai-Howrah and Chennai-Mumbai and also improve the connectivity of Andhra Pradesh to the economic hubs of India. This will ensure that the people of Andhra Pradesh are able to reach faster to remote markets all over the country.
In fact, Venkaiah Garu, I must share with you that in 2014 when our government came in, we were, I would not say surprised, we were shocked when we tried to connect Mumbai to the southern parts of India, to Hyderabad, to Bangalore, to Nellore, to Chennai, there are portions in these lines, these are critical important lines, which were still single sections. Single line portions were there on these important sections. After the government of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi came in, one of the first things we did was take up the doubling of all these small patches which were left single-lined.
I don’t know, 65 years after independence, having single line sections on the golden quadrilateral, was actually shocking for all of us. But in the next few months, the entire golden quadrilateral, particularly, these connections to south India, will have at least a double line section. And now, we are planning the third and fourth line so that we can decongest all these highly crowded routes. Today, we are also going to inaugurate upgraded passenger amenities at the Tirupati railway station at an investment of 11 crores and I have seen the pictures of that, particularly in the night. It’s so beautifully lit up, very clean, that it will be a pleasure to use Tirupati railway station.
The new foot-over bridge of Nellore South Railway Station is also going to be inaugurated today. I am happy to share with all, particularly with all the young passengers of the railways that we are dedicating to the nation free high-speed Wi-Fi facility at Nellore, Gudur and Renigunta railway station today. This will be free Wi-Fi and I must share with you, this is the fastest Wi-Fi available anywhere in the country. No telecom operator, I will not take any names, but no telecom operator can also give you the speed that the Railway – RailTel services gives on the railway station. It is the fastest Wi-Fi. You can download a whole movie, a Telugu film in less than 3 minutes. All film can be downloaded on your phone.
Of course, you shouldn’t do that, you should do some research. I want the youngsters to do some research about what is happening in the world and become scientists, who will make our nation proud tomorrow. Similarly, we are dedicating to the nation, new booking office at Akkampeta railway station. The foot-over bridge and new booking office at Thiruvottiyur station and a subway constructed in place of level crossing number 34 at Gummidipoondi. We are also going to lay the foundation stone for passenger amenities at all railway stations from Krishnapatnam to Rapur. And thereafter, we want to start the passenger service on this section also, so that people from here and all the way, can get connected from Krishnapatnam port, can go there for their business and then, Krishnapatnam port will get connected also with passenger line to the main line.
So, it’s a holistic vision that Hon’ble Vice President has worked for several years which will be seeing the light of the day in the coming few months. We will also be laying the foundation stone for a beautiful redevelopment programme at Nellore station at an investment of Rs. 100 crore for Nellore railway station. It will be a world-class smart station with modern amenities, energy-efficient and an eco-friendly station.
We shall also be flagging off the Nellore-Chennai Central MEMU passenger train – India’s fast electric train, which will enhance connectivity between Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and provide safe and economic mode of transport to commuters all the way up to Chennai. This will help business and education. We are also going to start by 25th December 2019, which is the birthday of Shradhyeh Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who has been the leader of Shri Venkaiah Garu, has been my mentor. We shall be starting passenger train operations from Venkatachalam to Rapuru stations from 25th December, 2019.
I am also pleased to announce Hon’ble Vice President Sir, a few things which were not planned in this programme and I hope will make the people of Nellore happy. A few announcements of certain extension of trains, certain stoppages, and the increase in frequency of one train. We shall now have the train No. 17215 and 17216, which comes from Vijayawada to Dharmavaram, its Vijayawada-Dharmavaram Express. This train will be increased from three days a week to a daily service from 22nd February, 2019 i.e. from tomorrow itself, this train will be a daily service from Vijayawada to Dharmavaram.
We will also be having new stoppages – Train No. 11020 and 11019 which is the Bhubaneswar-Mumbai CSMP Konark Express will now, from today itself stop at Pithapuram. We will also make a stop at Pithapuram from today itself. Also, there will be a stoppage for Train No. 11017-11018, which is the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus from my city of Mumbai. Lokmanya Tilak Terminus to Karaikal Weekly Express will now start stoppage at Rajampet from 24th February, 2019.
I thought I will take this auspicious occasion to give this gift also to the people of Andhra Pradesh. These two stoppages will certainly help the people wait at Pithapuram and Rajampet. There are four more good news that I would like to share with you. And I think the Railway is also acknowledging these announcements with the hooting of our horns. Train No. 20889-20890 which is a train which goes from Howrah to Vijayawada. It’s a Humsafar Train, a weekly train. This Humsafar weekly from Howrah to Vijayawada will be extended from 24th February, 2019 to Tirupati, so that people from Howrah can come straight for darshan of Tirupati Balaji, and it goes via Nellore and it will go up to Tirupati.
Similarly, we are extending Train No. 68433-68434, which comes from Cuttack to Brahmapur. It’s a MEMU service. This will now be extended from 3rd March, 2019 to Ichchapuram. It will be extended to Ichchapuram from 3rd March, 2019. Further, we will be extending Train No. 58526-58525, which goes from Vishakhapatnam to Palasa. It’s a passenger train from Vishakhapatnam to Palasa. This will be extended also to Brahmapur and from 3rd March, 2019.
And lastly, we have a Train No. 77673-77674. It comes from Miryalaguda to Kacheguda. It’s a DEMU service which will now be extended from 23rd February, day after tomorrow, to Nadikude. From 23rd February, this will be extended to Nadikude also.
So, these seven new announcements, I hope will make the people of Tamil Nadu also happy. Of course, for Andhra Pradesh’s development in the last five years, we have been increasing the annual budget by almost three times. Earlier, only Rs 886 crore was spent annually average, between 2009 to 2014. We have increased it to 2,830 crore – nearly three times between 2014-2019 and nearly 20 new projects have been sanctioned in the last five years, worth about Rs. 28,000 crore. Twenty projects worth 28,000 crore have been sanctioned by Prime Minister Modi’s government in the last five years.
This includes four new line projects including the Vijayawada-Guntur via Amaravati project. Twin doubling of third line projects of 2,339 kilometres. This will decongest routes, improve punctuality and six electrification projects of 766 kilometres, which will make travel in Andhra Pradesh environment friendly, seamless connectivity and also get faster trains.
I am happy to share with you that all unmanned level crossings on the broad gauge network – all, 100 per cent unmanned level crossings have been eliminated in Andhra Pradesh and in the entire country. Now-a-days, not a single unmanned level crossing in the entire country, in the entire Andhra Pradesh.
In the period of five years, 8 kilometres new lines were setup between 2009 to 2014, but between 2014 -2019, 290 kilometres of new lines have been commissioned in this five year period. Similarly, electrification has gone up from 290 kilometres between 2009 to 2014 to 1045 kilometres in the last five years. Apart from that, 34 pairs of new trains and 12 pairs of trains have been extended during this period. In this year’s budget also, Rs 1,500 crore has been allotted for several projects which will add new capacity, which will add doubling on electrification and station development.
In conclusion, there has been a request that has been made by honourable Vice-President only yesterday. Yesterday, when the General Manager called on the honourable Vice-President, he had desired that we should introduce a new inter-city superfast express service between Gudur and Vijayawada. Just yesterday, you made that request, Sir. I am happy to share with all of you that Hon’ble Vice President’s words are like ‘Mantra’ for all of us. It’s an order, it’s not a desire.
And therefore, on completion of this Venkatachalam –Obulavari palli new line. As soon as there is new line that’s completed, the tunnel work gets completed and the passenger facilities are completed, we will start service, which will go from Gudur at 6.10 am in the morning and arrive at Vijayawada at 10.25 (am) so that people can go to their work – business, any family work any other religious work – can complete all that and in the evening, they will start from Vijayawada through this new train at 5.25 pm and come back home to Gudur at 9.40 pm.
This new service we will start, Hon’ble Vice-President Sir, as soon as this new line work is completed. I think it’s a great day for Nellore, it’s a great day for Andhra Pradesh. I am delighted to be here. After this programme, I shall be going to seek the blessings of Balaji Tirupati for having guided me through my last nearly five years in government, for having encouraged me to do more and more work for my motherland, for India, for the people of India, for the people of Andhra Pradesh and I shall seek Lord Balaji’s blessings to give me more strength, to give me more confidence and to guide me in my work in the years to come, in the service of the people of Andhra Pradesh, in the service of the people of India.
Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. Jai Hind!
February 14, 2019 Speaking at CREDAI YouthCon 2019, in New Delhi