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We want to win hearts of people of J&K, says PM after flagging off Katra train

Katra(J and K): Prime Minister Narendra Modi today declared that the Centre wants to win the hearts of people of Jammu and Kashmir through development as he flagged off the train linking Katra–the base camp for pilgrims headed to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine nestled in the Trikuta hills.
Suggesting that the train be named ‘Shree Shakti Express’, Modi, who is on his maiden visit to J and K after assuming power, said the state has gone through many “problems and difficulties” and the country wants it to be “prosperous and peaceful”.’Shree’ is one of the names of Goddess Durga.
The train connectivity to Katra is part of the ambitious Kashmir rail link project that will connect the Valley with the rest of the country. The last link between Katra and Banihal pass, is expected to be completed by 2018.
The 25-km long Udhampur-Katra line, commissioned after prolonged delays, has been built at an estimated cost of Rs 1,132.75 crore.
The train will traverse through seven tunnels and over 30 small and large bridges. There will be a small station – Chakrakhwal – between Udhampur and Katra. Trains will be able to reach Katra directly as the 53-km Jammu-Udhampur rail line is already operational. This would enable lakhs of pilgrims headed to the revered Vaishno Devi shrine to travel directly to the base camp at Katra.
“I congratulate the crores of devotees of Mata Vaishno Devi, who want to come here for pilgrimage from all across the country,” Modi said while dedicating the train to the nation. The Prime Minister said the new rail link will speed up the process of development in the state.
“The journey started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be continued… Our priority is to win the hearts of every citizen of this state through development,” Modi said.
Modi said the train is a gift not just for people of J and K but for the whole of India
At the function at the Katra station where Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was among others present, the Prime Minister refrained from touching upon any political issue facing the state. The Prime Minister also allayed the fears of the people of Jammu, who feel that the direct rail link to Katra will have negative impact on the development of their city, saying the “development of Jammu will not be stalled.”
Modi said the government will further enhance the rail connectivity in J and K and that the Banihal rail line will be linked to the rest of the country directly. Omar also raised the need for a Banihal link in his speech and demanded an upgrade for the railway station in Jammu city.
The Prime Minister said with the inauguration of the railway link and the hydel power project in Uri in the evening, “Jammu and Kashmir’s development will get both speed and energy.” He said railways is an environment-friendly mode of transport and it will be spread in Jammu and Kashmir.
Stressing that the Himalayan states have similar problems and opportunities, he said there is a need for a “common model” of development for them. Modi said he had come to the Mata Vasihno Devi shrine during his election campaign and “today we begin our development journey from here.”
He said six trains would be running from the Katra station to different destinations in the country and three sets of local trains would also be running from Jammu to the station.
Railways is considering extending Jammu Mail and Sampark Kranti Express up to Katra, besides introducing new trains, including Katra-Kalka Express, New Delhi-Katra AC Express.
There is also a possibility of launching a new train between Varanasi and Katra, a railway official said, adding the purpose is to connect two holy places by train. An estimated 10 million devotees visit the shrine every year.
Railway Protection Force (RPF) has been stationed at vulnerable locations all along the track in protected bunkers to maintain round-the-clock vigil. Katra station is equipped with modern facilities, including tourist guide counter, cloak room, waiting hall, VIP lounge, escalators and lifts and parking spaces. The train connectivity to Katra is part of the ambitious Kashmir rail link project marking region’s rail connectivity with the rest of the country.
The Prime Minister will fly to Srinagar where he will address a ‘Sainik Sammelan’, official sources said. He may touch upon India’s ties with neighbouring Pakistan at this event. After his lunch with Governor N N Vohra, the Prime Minister will inaugurate the second phase of 240 MW Uri Hydel project which has been built by the state-run National Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC).

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