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Modi flags off Meghalaya's first train, compares northeast to Ashta Lakshmi
Sunday November 30, 2014 9:39 AM, IANS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday flagged off the first passenger train from Mendipathar in Meghalaya to Dudhnoi in Assam, thereby putting Meghalaya for the first time on India's railway map. He compared the northeast region to Hindu Goddess Lakshmi, and said development of the region will help the rest of India.

The prime minister, who kick-started a three-day four-state tour of the region, also laid the foundation stone of a new broad gauge railway line between Bhairabi and Sairang in Mizoram.

"Vaastu Shastra claims that if one keeps the Eshan (northeast) corner of a house in order, it boosts the prosperity of the house. Similarly, I believe that if we can keep India's northeast in order, it would help the rest of the country also," Modi said in his address to thousands of people at the railway stadium in Guwahati.

Modi, on his maiden visit after becoming prime minister, said infrastructure was the key to development.

"If we can develop the infrastructure of the region, development will follow. The northeast region will achieve new heights of development if infrastructure like rail and road links are developed," he said.

Modi compared the eight states of the region with Ashta Lakshmi (the eight different forms of Hindu Goddess Lakshmi), and said proper development of the Ashta Lakshmi will help develop other parts of the region too.

Referring to his recent visit to Myanmar, Modi said he has already taken up the issue of railway link between the northeast and Myanmar.

"They say this is the century of Asia, and if it is true, the northeast must have its share of it. My government's effort will be to establish rail links between the region and Myanmar and other Asian countries, which will boost the potential of the region," he said.

"Once the region is linked with other Asian counties, the youth of the region do not need to go to Bangalore and other places to look for opportunities," he said.

The prime minister also stressed the need to modernise the railways and said his government has decided to invite private investment in railways and privatise the railway stations to make them economically viable.

"The railway connects. But it also expedites the speed of development. It is in fact the spine of the country's economy," he said.

"Unfortunately in the past, railway budgets have been only about adding a compartment and adding new tracks. I want to develop the railways, both vertically and horizontally.

"While the railway network will be spread to more areas, services will also be upgraded," he said.

Modi said his government has also decided to establish four railway universities in the country.

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