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Railway Minister launches first phase of station redevelopment Program for 23 major Railway Stations across India

The Railways will provide 140 acres of encroachment-free land for the development of these stations under a public-private partnership (PPP) model

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New Delhi, Feb 8, 2017: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday launched the first phase of station redevelopment programme for 23 major railway stations across the country.

As part of the programme, the Railways will take up 400 stations in 100 top cities for redevelopment into smart stations, equipped with self-ticketing system, escalators and better amenities for the passengers.

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 The entire project, that is being touted as the world’s largest such programme, will use at least 2,200 acres of land and see investments worth Rs 1 lakh crore.

The 23 stations that will be redeveloped in the first phase include Chennai Central, Ranchi, Udaipur City, Indore, Yesvantpur, Bangalore Cantonment, Visakhapatnam, Howrah, Kamakhya, Faridabad, Jammu Tawi, Secunderabad, Vijayawada, Kozhikode and Bhopal.

The first phase will utilise a budget of Rs 6000-9000 crore, and the tenders will awarded through free bidding.

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The Railways will provide 140 acres of encroachment-free land for the development of these stations under a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

Speaking at the occasion, Prabhu said that “the Railways have certain advantages out of which one is holding of land on a large-scale” and that stations are a place “where lots of people wait to board a train and thus Railway Stations can be developed into an iconic property”.

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He said that smart stations are a prerequisite of a smart city and upon completion a total of 16 million passengers will be able enjoy the facilities at these stations.

Other amenities at the redeveloped stations will include digital signage, executive lounges, luggage screening machines, walkways, holding areas for passengers, grand and distinctive roofing and flooring, and free and paid Wi-Fi, among others. (IANS)

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

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“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

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The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

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Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

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Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)