This should come as a bolt from the blue for prime minister Narendra Modi. His dream project of the Rs 98,000 crore bullet train has been blocked by BJP-ruled Maharashtra citing huge revenue losses.
According to a report in The Indian Express, the state government is not keen on the project because the Mumbai station as proposed by the Japanese consultants will result in a revenue loss of Rs 10,000 crore. The proposal is to build the station under ground at the Bandra Kurla Complex, says the report.
The reason for the revenue loss is that such a station will render huge tracts of land at the complex not fit for further development. And the railways needs only 0.9 ha of the 28 ha land available at the complex, the report has said.
With the new roadblock, the plan to run the first bullet train in India by 2023 is unlikely to work.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu had earlier said the first bullet train will run in India in 2023. "In 2023, the first bullet train will run in India. We have already discussed the phases of bullet train project," Prabhu had told PTI.
Earlier last month, a high-level delegation led by NITI Ayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya had met Japanese officials in Tokyo to finalise key issues relating to the Rs 98,000 crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project.
That was the second meeting of the joint committee set up to execute the bullet train project.
During the meeting, the committee was to finalise the schedule of the project, terms related to the appointment of general consultant and procurement conditions.
Besides Panagariya, the Indian delegation comprised A K Mital, Chairman Railway Board, Shaktikanta Das, Secretary Department of Economic Affairs, S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary, and Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industry Policy and Promotion.
The flagship project is being financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is providing a soft loan of about Rs 79,380 crore, amounting to 81 percent of the total project cost.
Since the loan negotiation and finalisation of loan agreement will take some time, the government had requested for a proper schedule of project implementation to achieve timely completion.