Commenting on the launch of the bullet train project that will connect Ahmedabad and Mumbai, city Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said on Friday that the move seemed to be aimed at appeasing voters in Gujarat ahead of elections in the state. Nirupam said the foundation stone laid was in fact for a “ballot train” to launch the BJP’s election campaign.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi diplomatically tried to launch his election campaign by appeasing voters in Ahmedabad. This is an injustice to the residents of Mumbai. Three years since the BJP took charge, the struggle to acquire land for the project in Mumbai continues,” he said. Nirupam also raised concerns about reducing the land to be allotted to the International Finance Services Center (IFSC) in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) to make place for the bullet train station.
“We need 50 hectares of land for construction of the IFSC. However, much land was instead allotted to the construction of the bullet train station, whereas IFSC was ignored,” he said. The state has said that the IFSC plans will not be affected by the bullet train station. “They have also overruled the previous route of the bullet train, as visualised by the Congress, which was to run between Mumbai-Pune-Ahmedabad. They have added a station Boisar, which sees hardly a population of 55,000. They are yet to acquire 857 hectares of land for the project,” Nirupam added.
Nirupam also spoke against increased prices of petrol and diesel. Comparing the rate of fuel with that in other cities, he said the residents of Mumbai were being “looted”. “We are paying Rs 79.5 for petrol and Rs 64.44 for diesel, much more than other cities and many other countries. We appeal to the government to include the cost of fuel under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will put a maximum cap of 28 per cent tax on fuel rates as opposed to 60 per cent at present,” he added.
Nirupam also said he would appeal to the Election Commissioner for use of Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail unit for the bypoll in ward number 116 in Bhandup, scheduled for October 11, as a measure against manipulation of voting machines.