Gujarat is laying out the red carpet for the showpiece bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, including agreeing to handhold the entire land acquisition process in the state. The Gujarat government is going to enter into a formal understanding with the Railways that it will facilitate land acquisition for the high speed project, extend manpower support, and promote development around the bullet train stations.
Not only that, to help the bullet train to gain ridership, the government will also integrate various other modes of public transport with the high-speed rail network.
Signifying the importance the state is attaching to this project — one of the most talked about projects by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — Gujarat is going to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the newly-established National High Speed Rail Corporation at the ongoing Vibrant Gujarat Summit on Thursday.
It is being viewed as a big fillip to the project if the state government handholds the land acquisition project because bulk of the land requirement — to build an estimated 350-km long track for lines, stations and other infrastructure facilities — for the project falls in Gujarat and the rest is in Maharashtra. The National High Speed Rail Corporation is a Centre-state JV entity implementing the project.
Apart from the bullet train corridor, Gujarat government is also upbeat about a proposed world class High-Speed Railway Training Institute in Gandhinagar, which will train the manpower in collaboration with Japan, as an integral part of the overall project, whose total revised cost if going to be Rs 1.1 lakh crore after it was decided last year that it will be an elevated corridor.
The project, however, has slowed down so far by Maharashtra government, which last year put a spanner in the plan by refusing to allow construction of the underground Mumbai station at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) saying the location selected was earmarked for a multi-storey International Financial Centre the state was developing.
Faced with resistance, the Japan International Cooperation Agency had to scout for land elsewhere in the city. Railways had, however, communicated to the Maharashtra government eventually that the original site at the BKC could not be shifted due to feasibility issues. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is learnt to have given a go-ahead to allot land in the BKC itself but owing to civic polls there, the matter has not been formalised yet.