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Devendra Fadnavis refuses Mumbai land for bullet train terminus; railways fears delay

The CM has offered two alternative sites instead — behind Dhirubhai Ambani International School at BKC and at Dharavi

mumbai Updated: Aug 25, 2017 01:35 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,bullet train,BKC
The Centre plans to complete the project by 2023.(HT)

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has refused to allot land at Bandra-Kurla Complex to the railways ministry for the ambitious Rs98,000-crore bullet train project. He has offered two alternative sites instead — behind Dhirubhai Ambani International School at BKC and at Dharavi — where a terminus could be built.

In a meeting held on Wednesday with central authorities and officials from the Japan government, Fadnavis reiterated his government’s stand.

Railways officials expressed concern that if the BKC plot was not alloted, it would delay the project by one-and-a-half years. The Centre plans to complete the project by 2023.

He said that if it caused any delay in the project, railway authorities should blame themselves for not undertaking a feasibility check.

The state government has earmarked the BKC plot for Fadnavis’ pet project International Financial Services Centre. The Union government has not approved the 50-hectare land as a finance special economic zone (SEZ), which will lead to tax concessions.

In Wednesday’s meeting, Fadnavis said that the High Speed Rail Corporation, which is under the railways ministry, had failed to prepare a detailed project report.

He also urged railway officials to check feasibility of other alternative sites.

It is not the first time that the state government has suggested options for the starting point of the bullet train services. Earlier, it had asked the railways ministry to consider plots at Dadar, Kurla and Bandra.

According to an official from the transport department, the plot where IFSC is proposed cannot be shared for the bullet train, even if the station is underground. “Though the terminus needs only 0.9 hectares of 47, parking slots and other related activities will take up more space. Other sites suggested are in the vicinity and would not disturb the design of the project,” said the official.

“The central authorities have been asked to check the feasibility of the two alternative sites,” said Nitin Kareer, principal secretary, urban development department.

The state government also wants the authorities to extend the bullet train corridor to Nagpur via Nashik. A Spanish firm has been conducting a study for the extension, which will run parallel to Fadnavis’ pet project Samruddhi corridor (Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway).

“Over tax concessions for IFSC and a plot for the terminus, Fadnavis is playing hardball with the Centre,” said the official.

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 01:35 IST