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Bullet train may pose hurdles for Mumbai’s financial hub

The bone of contention is that Maharashtra has already designated the same land parcel for setting up the IFSC.

Written by Sandeep Ashar | Mumbai |
January 10, 2017 6:13:30 am
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The proposed Rs 98,000-crore bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai may pose hurdles in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s plans to construct an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Bandra Kurla Complex or BKC. Just as the central government wants Maharashtra to share a portion of the land designated for the IFSC in BKC for the bullet train project, senior bureaucrats from Maharashtra have cautioned the chief minister that such an arrangement may impact the construction of the IFSC itself. The bullet train project is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project.

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According to sources, the railways have approached Maharashtra with a proposal for allotment of 0.9 hectare of land in the G-text block at the BKC for building a station for the bullet train. It also wants the state government to permit it to utilise 4.5 hectare space underneath the same land parcel for the project.

The bone of contention is that Maharashtra has already designated the same land parcel for setting up the IFSC.

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Top sources in the Maharashtra government confirmed the state bureaucracy’s advisory was one of the main reasons for deferring a proposal for allotment of the land to railways, which was brought before the state Cabinet on January 2.

The bone of contention cited by senior state bureaucrats is that restrictions will become applicable on the construction activity once the portion of the land is notified for the bullet train project under the Railways Act, 1989. The central Act restricts construction activity within 30 metres on either side of railway corridors, a senior official pointed out.

Senior bureaucrats in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, which is overseeing the IFSC project, have also expressed apprehension that curbs could be placed on the extent of the floor space index to be used for the state’s project.

Following the cautionary note, Fadnavis, confirmed sources, has decided to seek a “written assurance” from the railways that it shall not raise objections regarding construction for the IFSC. Sources added that the chief minister also wants to elicit a commitment from the Union ministry for planning another bullet train project between Mumbai and Nagpur, confirmed sources. Besides allotment of the land, the Centre wants Maharashtra to bear 25 per cent of capital expenditure for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.

Sources said the state is also pushing for a prior nod from the Union Ministry of Commissioner for the IFSC. With the Centre declining the state’s previous proposal for declaring the BKC land as a Special Economic Zone since it did not meet the minimum area requirement, sources said a revised proposal has been sent. “The IFSC will now be spread over 50 hectare, which is the minimum area required for an SEZ. The previous proposal was for an IFSC over 38 hectare,” said a senior state official.

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