Bye Bye, Bullet Train

Bullet Train

Following the oath-taking ceremony of the new government in Maharashtra after a political upheaval, many news are in the line. The new coalition government of Shiv Sena- Congress- NCP is likely to take some major decisions in key projects ongoing in Maharashtra. First in line is Narendra Modi’s dream bullet train project followed by Nanar oil refinery, Mumbai’s Aarey Colony. As per a statement of the spokesperson of Shiv Sena, Manisha Kayande, the focus of the new government.

“However many trees the MMRCL (Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited) has cut, going forward not one more will be cut. Uddhav Thackeray Ji said this… this government will work for the people,” Ms Kayande said.

With a promise to take Maharashtra forward, the alliance in the news- Maha Vikas Aghadi has expressed concerns and reservations over the inflated cost of the bullet train project and the returns. A senior Congress leader in conversation with NDTV suggested that if the project has to go ahead, the costs involved will have to be borne by the centre. Maharashtra government now is not willing to expend any further on the bullet train project. The costs involved in the project is pegged at Rs. 1.08 lakh crores, which as per sources will not be given a go by the alliance. The new government is addressing the concerns of farmers who have been suffering for long in the state. It is reported, that alone in this year farmers in Maharashtra have suffered a loss of lakh of acres of crops owing to the flooding, which was followed by a severe situation of drought.

As per the status of the project, Maharashtra has to share the costs to the tune of Rs. 40,000 crore in the Bullet Train project. The new Uddhav Thackrey government is likely to use the said money for farm loan waiver. The benefit in taking forward the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project would only benefit the Gujarat’s diamond cutting and polishing industry which is now opposed by the new coalition government. The pitch of the new government is to realign the new route of the Bullet Train and to change its headquarters to be moved away from the Bandra Kurla Complex [BKC]. As per information from the officials of the National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd, a special purpose vehicle has been set up to implement the project, and so far 50 per cent of land has been acquired, most of it is in Gujarat.

On Saturday, after the hush-swearing in ceremony of Devendra Fadnavis, the Maharashtra Governor, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari announced an interim relief programme for acquisitions under the project. He demanded a compensation of Rs. 25,000 per hectare of land.

The BJP and Shiv Sena are known to share adverse political priorities, often seen in opposition to one another. Be it cutting of trees in the Aarey colony in Mumbai or the Nanar refinery project located in Ratnagiri. The bullet train project was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In the agreement on the project, Japan was to provide a loan of Rs. 88 crore at a nominal interest rate of 0.1 percent. The project was scheduled to be completed by 2023 with the responsibility of construction given to the National High Speed Railway Corporation [NHSRCL]

The Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP front is likely to stop key projects like the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, a Sena official told NDTV. The alliance, which will come to power in Maharashtra after a week of high drama in a state that has been without a government for more than a month, will also scrap the Nanar oil refinery and not cut any more trees at Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, party spokesperson Manisha Kayande said. It will, instead, focus on farmers’ welfare – a key election issue.

“Nothing has changed so far as the Nanar project is concerned. From what I know, this issue has been decided, and it has been closed. As far as the bullet train is concerned,.. we had decided earlier as well. If it is causing so much harm to so many people, why should we go ahead with it?” she added.

“Our priority is farmers… personally feel don’t need (a) bullet train,” Deepak Kesarkar, a Sena MLA and Minister of State in the earlier state government, said earlier today.

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