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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday slammed the United Progressive Alliance government for delays in implementation of infrastructure projects, including the ambitious Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project that was approved 14 years ago.

Freight corridors are special tracks made for goods trains. They aim to decongest the railway network, ensure faster movement of goods, increase the national carrier’s freight capacity network and reduce overall logistics costs for companies.

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Over the last decade, DFC has faced hurdles over land acquisition, besides delays in loan approvals.

“This project is a living proof of the work culture of the government which was before 2014. In 2006, this project was approved. After that it remained only in papers and files. The seriousness that the Centre should have negotiated with the states, the urgency that should have been communicated, was not done. As a result, the work got stuck, hanged, went astray. The situation was that till 2014, not even a kilometre of track could be laid. The money which was also approved for this could not be spent properly," Modi said while virtually inaugurating the 351km section of the New Khurja-New Bhaupur stretch of the Eastern DFC.

“After the formation of the government in 2014, the files for this project were again reconstructed. When the officials were asked to move forward anew, the budget increased by nearly 11 times i.e. more than 45,000 crore. In the meetings on progress, I personally monitored it, communicated with stakeholders, reviewed it. The central government also extended contract with the state governments, motivating and encouraging them. We also brought new technology. The result of this is that about 1,100km of work will be completed in the next few months. Think, not a single kilometre in eight years, and 1,100 kilometers in 6-7 years," said PM.

The 351-km stretch has been built at a cost of 5,750 crore and is funded by the World Bank. The new stations in this section are Bhaupur, Kanchausi, Achalda, Ekdil, Bhadan, Makhanpur, Tundla, Hathras, Daudkan and Khurja.

“Along this stretch, 68 level crossings have been eliminated for augmenting speed and safety. The section has 19 major bridges, 414 minor bridges, and seven rail fly overs. Tata Projects- Aldesa JV was responsible for civil work and Alstom was responsible for system (signalling and electrical)," according to the railway ministry.

“With the release of freight trains on DFC route, Indian Railways will be able to run faster and punctual trains, and will get time to do routine maintenance, which was earlier a daunting challenge," the ministry said, adding that the average speed of goods trains will increase to 60-70kmph from the existing 25-30kmph.

Modi said the entire railway system suffered from political apathy on infrastructure. The earlier government was focused on increasing the number of trains, for electoral gains, without focusing on modernization of the rail network.

“Our past experiences show that the development of the country’s infrastructure should be kept away from politics. The country’s infrastructure is not the path of ideology, but the path of development of the country. It is a mission to benefit many generations to come, not five years of politics," Modi added.

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