Slamming the bullet train project, NDA ally Shiv Sena on Thursday said the project was not a dream of the common man but that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, sought to know if the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high speed train project really fits into the needs of the country. The criticism came on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone of India’s first bullet train project in Ahmedabad.
“We are getting a bullet train without asking for it. We do not know exactly which problem will this problem solve,” the Sena said. “(Former Prime Minister) Pandit (Jawaharlal) Nehru laid the foundation of several projects, from Bhakra Nangal to Bhaba Atomic Research Centre, to ensure the country advances in technology and science. All these projects were needed for the nation. Does this bullet train fit into the needs of the country?” the ally asked.
Out of the estimated Rs 1,08,000 crore cost of the project, at least Rs 30,000 crore would have to be shelled out by the Maharashtra government, it said. “The demands for loan waiver of farmers were being made since many years. Nobody sought a bullet train. Modi’s dream is not of the common man but of the rich and industrialists,” said the Sena, which is an ally of the BJP in Maharashtra and at the Centre.
Those saying that this project will create employment were speaking false, because Japan will bring everything required, right from the machinery to labourers from there for the project, the editorial said. The high-speed train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is expected to be completed by 2022.
The train is expected to cut the journey time from the current six hours to less than three hours. Of the 508-km route and 12 stations of the bullet train, 120 km and four stations will fall in Maharashtra. Japan has extended a soft loan for the ambitious project conceptualised by Modi.
The Maharashtra government has agreed to allot 0.9 hectares of land at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) here for a station for the proposed bullet train with certain conditions. A Government Resolution (GR) issued by the Maharashtra Home Department on September 12 said the state has set a condition that the cost of the land at BKC should be considered a part of the state’s preliminary share of Rs 125 crore for the project.