Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to lay the foundation stones of 500 railway station redevelopment projects in one go next week as part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
The entire Railways machinery is working to pull off this mammoth logistical exercise — what is slated to be the biggest ever foundation stone-laying exercise in one go.
Sources said nearly 2.5 lakh school students from across the country will take part in various competitions in their institutions, and the winners will get prizes on the ceremony day.
The 500 are part of 1,275 stations identified as part of the government’s Amrit Bharat Station Scheme. With other procedures on contracts in place, sources said, work on these 500 stations will be initiated once the Prime Minister lays the foundation stones.
Spread across nearly all the states, these stations are of all variety — big and small, little-known ones as well as some landmark railway heads. Chandigarh, Delhi Cantt, Kalka, Faridabad, Jammu Tawi Rewari, Rohtak, Raipur, Bilaspur, Khajuraho, Jodhpur, Kota, Bharatpur and Bhuj are among the stations picked from North India.
Then there are stations in the Northeast, such as Assam’s Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Lumding, Meghalaya’s Mendipathar, among others. Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, Bapudham Motihari, as well as Shornur and Kasargod in Kerala are some of the other stations that will be part of the redevelopment programme.
After remaining stuck at various stages of policy-making, the project has finally picked up pace over the last one year.
Launched in December 2022, the Amrit Bharat station scheme aims to prepare a masterplan for railway stations and implement it in a phased manner to enhance facilities.
The facilities intended to be implemented at the stations include foot-overbridges, escalators and elevators, two-wheeler and car parking areas, landscaping/horticulture, integrated passenger information system, signages, improvement of platform and platform shelters, benches and washbasins, better illumination and power supply arrangements, and CCTV, among others.
The scheme envisages development of stations on a continuous basis with a long-term approach. The stations are slated to have upgraded amenities such as improved access, circulating areas, waiting halls, toilets, lift/escalators as necessary, free Wi-Fi, kiosks for local products through schemes such as ‘One Station One Product’. Better passenger information systems, executive lounges, designated spaces for business meetings, landscaping, etc, are some of the other features being planned as part of the project.