Maharashtra agrees to give BKC land for bullet train, but wants Centre to first check 2 other plots
After much debate, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Maharashtra government formally agreed to give land at the plush Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) to the Union government to build the terminating station for the proposed showpiece Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, albeit with a caveat.
The state government wants the railway ministry to first examine the feasibility of the two alternative sites that the government has suggested and give them priority. Only if the railways does not find the two alternative plots technically viable, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the special planning agency for Bandra-Kurla Complex, will give the coveted plot in the business district.
After much flip-flop, the state cabinet took the decision in its meeting last week with Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled to lay the foundation stone for the project with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on September 14.
The Union government plans to take a loan of Rs 88,000 crore from the Japanese government to fund the bullet train project, estimated to cost Rs 1,08,000 crore.
The state has suggested two alternative plots: behind Dhirubhai Ambani International School at BKC and at Dharavi. The Union government has been keen on 0.9 hectares land in the ‘G Text’ block of the business district. The state government has been reluctant to give this plot as it has earmarked it to build an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
UPS Madan, metropolitan commissioner of MMRDA, said, “The state government has decided to give land in Bandra Kurla Complex. But railways should first check the feasibility of the land we are willing to offer in the G Block. Only if technically not feasible, the ‘G Text’ land shall be given.”
The state government has been keen on developing land at the G Text block as IFSC as it has about 30 hectares available for commercial use, adjoining 20 hectares of green area. Although the bullet train station is proposed to be built underground and the Centre needs just 0.9 hectare, state government officials have maintained that parking lots and related activities will take up space and may disturb the design of the IFSC.
The state cabinet also gave a formal nod for a 25% contribution to a special purpose vehicle comprising the Centre and the Maharashtra and Gujarat governments.
The state government will have to contribute Rs 5,000 crore with an initial investment of Rs 125 crore.
“The cost of the BKC land will be offset against the state government’s initial investment for the project. The cost of MMRDA’s land over and above the state’s initial investment of Rs 125 crore will be deducted from the state government’s total investment of Rs 5,000 crore in phases,” a state government official said.
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, which will cut the current six-hour journey between the two cities to 2-2.5 hours, will be 508 kilometres long, of which 120 kilometre will be in Maharashtra. Of the total 12 stations, four stations will be constructed in Maharashtra.