Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inaugurating the ‘Kosi Rail Mahasetu’ that will connect Mithila and Kosi regions of the state and end problems of people by cutting short their travel time substantially.

Kumar also hailed the Centre for starting several railway projects related to electrification and laying new rail tracks in the poll-bound state.

The PM inaugurated the 1.9 kilometre-long bridge via video conference from Delhi, while Kumar, along with Bihar Governor Phagu Chauhan and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, attended the programme from Patna.

The bridge is also of strategic importance along the India-Nepal border.

Narendra Modi said that it was a “dream project” of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Kumar who was the railway minister then, but it did not progress as fast as it should due to the apathetic attitude of successive governments.

Vajpayee had laid the foundation stone of the Kosi rail mega bridge project on June 6, 2003.

Kumar in his speech recalled that he had urged Vajpayee in that function to include Maithali language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, which he agreed and made an announcement to this effect the same day.

The chief minister also requested the Centre to restart functioning of the century-old Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (IRIMEE) at Jamalpur in Bihar’s Munger district.

The issue of shifting of IRIMEE from its present location to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh had surfaced in May, following which Kumar had urged Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to revoke the decision.

Goyal had said that there is no plan to shift the institute and described reports in this regard as “incorrect and misleading”.

Subsequently, the Railways issued a statement saying that it has planned to widen the activities of IRIMEE by including programmes in transportation technology and management.

The Bihar chief minister also appreciated the Railways for transporting over 23 lakh migrant workers to their homes in various places in the state during the lockdown.

He, however, expressed reservation over the use of the term ‘migrant’ for those working outside their states, saying that they are also citizens of this country. (PTI)