Despite the Maharashtra government dragging its feet on the ambitious bullet train project, Indian Railways would go ahead with the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor and complete the Gujarat portion on time.
With the project moving at a snail’s pace in Maharashtra, the Centre has made it clear that the execution of the first high-speed train in the country would be on course and if possible it would be operational on the Gujarat side.
Taking note of the slow progress in many important national projects due to the lack of cooperation from the concerned state governments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed displeasure in a high-level review meeting and indicated that the infrastructure projects crucial for the development would not be stopped.
The bullet train project execution is much behind the schedule as the basic work of land acquisition is not complete yet. While a majority of land to be acquired in Gujarat for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train corridor is already done, only 22 per cent of the required land has been acquired in Maharashtra.
Land acquisition for the big-ticket project has faced hurdles because of resistance from farmers and tribals, and lack of keenness on the state government’s part.
In a clear directive, the Prime Minister has reportedly asked the railways to go ahead with the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor and complete the work at least on the Gujarat portion on time, if the prevailing issues don’t get resolved for the stretch falling in Maharashtra.
According to sources, the railways is likely to begin the bullet train operations at least on the Gujarat portion once work is completed on this side.
Of the 508.17 km-long bullet train corridor, 155.76 km will be in Maharashtra, 348.04 km in Gujarat and 4.3 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
The project is estimated to cost around Rs 1.1 lakh crore, with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency financing 81 per cent of the project cost.
The Prime Minister was chairing the review meeting through the web-based multi-modal platform with the secretaries at the Centre and state chief secretaries after a gap of 10 months.
The Prime Minister expressed his unhappiness over the slow progress in the pre-construction activities in Maharashtra for the project.
So far, the National High Speed Rail Corporation has bid out works for the 325 km out of the 349 km of this corridor, which falls in Gujarat. The land acquisition in Gujarat is close to 85 per cent for this project while less than 25 per cent land has been acquired in Maharashtra so far.
The Prime Minister also requested the Odisha government to expedite the relocation of families affected due to a railway project since it would help push economic activities in the state.
In an official statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said multiple projects, grievances and programmes with a total cost of Rs 1.41 lakh crore were reviewed at the ‘Pragati’ meeting on Wednesday to see that the works get completed before time.
“The Prime Minister emphasised on the importance of grievance redressal, and said that focus should not only be on quantity of such redressals, but also on quality,” it said.