Bullet train in focus again as CM Uddhav orders review

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. (PTI photo)

The ambitious bullet train project is back in focus again with the new government in power in Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena, NCP, and the Congress, which are part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, have opposed the project in the past.

In Maharashtra, the project covers twin districts of Palghar and Thane and the commercial capital of Mumbai.

Maha Vikas Aghadi leader and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has ordered a review of the project. "This government is of the common man. Like you asked now, yes, we will review the bullet train (project). Have I stayed the bullet train project like Aarey car shed? No, I haven't," Uddhav told reporters on Sunday night.

The issue is likely to figure in the brief Nagpur winter session of Maharashtra legislature.

The bullet train or the high-speed rail corridor that would connect Mumbai to Ahmedabad is the pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

An official of the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Ltd, which is implementing the project, said nearly 48 per cent of the land acquisition for the project is complete. Land, accounting for over 350 hectares, in nearly 73 villages in Palghar and 22 villages in Thane are to be acquired.

The bullet train will pass through the two states of Gujarat and Maharashtra and the union territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli. The 508-km-long route starts from the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai and ends in Ahmedabad - and the journey is expected to take a little over two hours.

The 12 proposed stations are Mumbai, Thane, Virar,  Boisar, Vapi,  Billimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand/Nadia, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati.

The mega project costs Rs 1.1 lakh crore. To meet the cost,  Japan is providing a long-term loan of Rs 88,000 crore at an interest of 0.1 per cent.  While the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will bear 81 per cent of cost, the rest would come from Gujarat and Maharashtra governments.

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