Billed as India’s first “world-class” railway station, which will offer amenities to passengers at par with those at airports, Habibganj railway station in Bhopal will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 15. The state-of-the-art railway station has been revamped in the PPP mode at the cost of Rs 450 crore.
The railway station in the Madhya Pradesh capital is the first to have been prepared under private and public sector partnership in the country. In 2018, Indian Railways chalked out a plan to revamp around 400 A1 and A class stations across 100 cities at the cost of Rs 1 lakh crore, into “world-class” facilities.
Habibganj railway station was the first in line with the station being developed on the model of Germany’s Heidelberg railway station. Initially, the redevelopment project deadline was fixed for December 31, 2020, but due to Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions thereafter, the project got delayed, said railway officials.
Saurabh Bandopadhyay, DRM of Bhopal division, told News18 that the Habibganj railway station will offer amenities at par with those available at airports. Passengers will not have to be stuck in crowds and will be able reach their train berths with ease, he added.
The officer also said those alighting from trains will be using two separate routes to the exit. Besides, escalators and elevators had been installed for passengers’ convenience, he added.
The railway station will have giant entertainment screens, while close to 700 passengers wait for their trains at the premises.
Ticket counters have also been modernised for passengers and food courts designed inside the complex. Moreover, air-conditioned waiting rooms, retiring rooms, dormitories and VIP lounge have been added as well.
The security of the passengers and railway staff will be tracked by 159 CCTV cameras. In case of any fire incident, the station has facilities for safe passage of passengers. Most amenities will be powered by solar energy.
PM to attend ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas’
During the visit to MP on November 15, Prime Minister Modi will also address Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas, which is being organised on the birth anniversary of tribal icon Birsa Munda, to honour the valour and sacrifices of tribal leaders in Bhopal.
In the run-up to the assembly election due in 2023, this is being seen as a vital part of the BJP’s tribal outreach programme. There was a slump in seats in tribal regions in the 2018 assembly polls. The event will be held in Jamboorie Maidan in Bhopal and the BJP is planning to gather two lakh tribals for the event.
On the occasion, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is also expected to announce the decision of handing over rights of managing community forests to gram sabhas. The Money Lending Act for tribal areas could also be announced on the occasion, and more such schemes along with it.
Tribal voters hold importance for any party in MP with around 21 per cent vote share. The BJP is feeling bolstered after its recent win in the Jobat bypoll, where the ruling party defeated Congress in its own stronghold.
Importance of ST seats in MP politics
In 2003, when a resurgent BJP unseated the Congress with a landslide win, the saffron party won a total of 67 seats reserved for SC/ST as against 15 won by the Congress. A spirited Congress, however, uprooted the BJP in the crucial 2018 polls after 15 years. In 2018, the BJP won only 18 SC seats and 16 ST seats as against 31 ST seats and 28 SC seats won in 2013’s assembly polls. While the BJP defeated the Congress inside tribal heartland Jobat in the recent bypoll, it suffered a heavy loss in Raigaon, which has an SC bastion of its own for 35 years.
(Inputs by Anurag Shrivastava)