PM Modi's drive of inaugurating Vande Bharat trains: What's the total cost spent in the inaugural event in Kerala?

In the penultimate year of his second tenure in the office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been extensively travelling across the country with his drive of inaugurating the Vande Bharat trains, the enhanced addition to the Indian Railways. Being labeled as the Modi regime's landmark project, these advanced trains are now becoming the choice of travel for Indians.  

Most of the major cities are being connected by Vande Bharat trains and Modi presided over every inauguration ceremony of Vande Bharat train as he waved the green flag at every station where the train's service was started. While his drive of inaugurating every Vanda Bharat trains by himself had sparked outcry from the activists and critics who questioned whether Modi is a station master to wave the green flag at the stations, the BJP leaders have been propagating a message that his drive is transforming the rail connectivity in the country. 

From Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, to Madhya Pradesh, Modi ensured that he was present at the events of inaugurating the Vande Bharat trains. While his drive is making headlines, the amount spent on these events had now turned heads as an RTI activist was told by the Southern Railways about the amount spent for the Vande Bharat train inaugural event in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. 

Ajay Bose is an RTI (Right To Information) Activist from Maharashtra and he sent a petition under the RTI Act seeking the information about total money spent by the Thiruvananthapuram division of the Southern Railways during Modi's inauguration of the Vande Bharat train in Kerala. The response to his petition from the Thiruvananthapuram division revealed that Rs 1.48 crore was spent by the Southern Railways during the inaugural event. 

The inaugural event of Vande Bharat train at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, was held on April 25, 2023 at the city's Central Railway Station during which Narendra Modi launched the state's first Vande Bharat train, that is connecting Thiruvananthapuram with Kasaragod. While the usual train time duration between these two cities would take 12 to 13 hours, it has been reported that the Vande Bharat train service has reduced the duration to eight hours.

In its RTI response to Ajay Bose, the Thiruvananthapuram Railway Division had provided information regarding its own expenses for the inauguration, while the total expenditure associated with the event has to be provided by the Southern Railway headquarters. Bose, who is a former railway official and turned RTI activist, had expressed his concern over the spending of the taxpayers money for such purposes. 

He also stressed that the amount spent on these events should have been directed towards enhancing the railway safety. On Tuesday - June 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Madhya Pradesh and he had inaugurated five Vande Bharat trains in a single day - two physically and the rest three inaugurations were done virtually.  

While Modi had directly inaugurated the Bhopal- Indore and Bhopal- Jabalpur Vande Bharat trains in the events in Madhya Pradesh, he had virtually inaugurated the Vande Bharat train services to Ranchi- Patna, Dharwad - Bengaluru, and Goa - Mumbai routes. The two Vande Bharat train services were launched in Madhya Pradesh at a high time when the state is preparing to go for a crucial assembly poll later this year. 

During the inauguration event at Rani Kamalapati railway station in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accompanied by Union Minister of Railways Ashwinin Vaishnaw, Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiradtiya Scindia, Union Minister of Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar, Madhya Pradesh Governor Mangubhai Patel, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and other dignitaries.