Mumbai to Ahmedabad bullet train project may miss 2023 deadline
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project may miss its 2023 deadline. The construction work for India’s first high-speed train corridor has gained momentum in Gujarat, but is stuck in Maharashtra due to opposition to land acquisition.
With 30% land acquisition in Maharashtra by the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), the body that will undertake the construction of the corridor, the deadline of the project is likely to be extended.
To speed up the land acquisition work in Maharashtra, minister of state for railways Raosaheb Danve will meet NHSRCL, Western Railway and collectors of Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts in Mumbai on Wednesday. “I will be discussing the bullet train project at length on Wednesday with all officials. All concerns will be discussed,” said Danve on Tuesday.
Of the 508.17km of the project, 155.76km is in Maharashtra, 384.04km in Gujarat and 4.3km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The estimated cost of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project is ₹110,000 crore, of which ₹88,000 crore will be funding from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The project has a completion deadline of 2023. As per NHSRCL, overall 75% of the land required for the corridor has been acquired for the project, of which 28% is in Maharashtra. At least 97% of land acquisition has been done in Gujarat and 100% in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
The body recently invited tenders for design and construction of track for double high-speed railway line between Vadodara and Sabarmati depot in Gujarat and has started on-ground construction work in the state. Civil work contracts for the construction of five railway stations, Sabarmati terminal, construction of 28 steel bridges crossing over railway lines, rivers, highways and road structures have been awarded.
“In Gujarat, nearly 90% of the land has been handed over to the contractors for the construction work and the work is going on in full swing,” said a senior NHSRCL official.
In Maharashtra, the body has invited bids for the construction of the underground railway station at BKC. The last submission date for the bid is in December and the construction is likely to start mid-2023.
“Construction work can only begin once we have 90% of the land in our possession. Efforts are on to get the required land before construction-related contracts can be awarded in Maharashtra,” added the NHSRCL official.
After taking charge as the railway minister in July, Ashwini Vaishnaw conducted a detailed review meeting of the high speed corridor project and directed the NHSRCL officials to speed up work and take steps to increase land acquisition in Maharashtra. “We are in constant discussions with the Maharashtra government regarding land acquisition and are working to acquire the land required in the state,” said the official.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had earlier questioned if the bullet train project was of any benefit to the state and the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) appeared non- committal on the project after coming to power.
Danve said, “The bullet train project is targeted to improve development in the area and it will help the state.”
Further, the railway ministry is looking into completion of the bullet train corridor project in Gujarat by 2023. Passenger associations have asked for keeping the politics aside and focus on the development that will be done after the bullet train corridor becomes operational.
“Initially, when Rajdhani Express between Mumbai and Delhi was supposed to start, people thought it would not be profitable and there was hesitancy. The train is now the most popular train on the route. Politics over bullet train should be kept aside by the state and central government and the focus should be overall development of both the commercial hubs and the country. Construction work in Maharashtra should be started soon,” said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Parishad.