Japan’s Parliamentary Vice Minister Akimoto Masatoshi Saturday said there was lot of interest among Indians in Japanese cooperation in high speed rail and metro projects, adding that his country had a “bigger responsibility” to respond to these expectations. Masatoshi, who is the parliamentary vice minister in the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, was in Ahmedabad to inspect the sites of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail, popularly called the bullet train, and the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar metro rail projects at Kalupur railway station. Both these projects have received soft loans from the Japanese government.
Speaking to reporters, Masatoshi said that after going back to Japan, he’d convey the “enthusiasm, interest as well as expectations” that Indians have shown towards the Japanese government regarding the two projects. “I have noticed a lot of interest among Indians in Japanese cooperation in high-speed rail and the metro projects. Japan has a bigger responsibility to respond to the expectations of the Indians,” he said. He said that his government would continue to cooperate with its Indian counterpart in the completion of the two projects.
The Japanese vice minister said that the site of the metro rail project near Kalupur railway station was supposed to be one of the most “difficult and complex sites of construction.” He said that project was “very difficult” and stated that Japan would continue to support India to make sure this difficult construction is completed. He was accompanied by a delegation from Japan and officials of the two projects as well as officials of the Ahmedabad division of the Indian Railways.
Masatoshi also lauded safety measures set in place at the project sites. “I am very happy and impressed to see that all workers were wearing helmets. Also, we insist on wearing personal safety equipment. I think it is very important to continue to be conscious of the fact that life is important and safety must be of utmost priority,” he said.
He said that his government was committed to help India in enhancing the “safety standards of the Indian railways.” “We got immense cooperation from NHSRC (the SPV building the bullet train corridor) and MEGA (Metro Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad) in both metro and high speed rail projects. I’d reiterate Japan’s cooperation in successful completion of all these projects,” he added. Masatoshi also visited the iconic Sidi Saiyyed Mosque in the city.
In September last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, launched the ambitious high speed rail project entailing a total cost of around Rs 1.10 lakh crore. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is extending a loan of Rs 88,000 crore for the project at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent.
JICA has also offered Rs 6,066 crore loan for the first phase of the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar metro rail project, a MEGA official said. He added that the construction of the underground route near Kalupur was one of the difficult parts and was being done using a tunnel boring machine.