Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday arrived in Ahmedabad for his two-day visit to India during which he will lay the foundation stone for India's first bullet train project. Abe landed at 3:30 pm at the Ahmedabad airport in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat. Modi, along with his Japanese counterpart, is carrying out a first-of-its-kind roadshow on a 9-km stretch from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport to Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram.
The twin cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar are all decked up to welcome the Japanese leader with streets shimmering in fluorescent lights, and hoardings and banners welcoming Abe dotting them.
Here are the highlights:
Gujarat: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed the visitor's book at Ahmedabad's Sabarmati Ashram in Japanese. pic.twitter.com/6THrormUgt— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2017
Ahmedabad: High-Speed Rail (Bullet Train) simulator at Mahatma Mandir Exhibition. PM Modi & PM Shinzo Abe will visit the exhibition tomorrow pic.twitter.com/tRAXyTQ5oJ— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2017
PM Modi, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe & his wife Akie Abe at 'Sidi Saiyyid Ni Jaali’, the famous 16th century mosque in Ahmedabad pic.twitter.com/Rx8Y14R9YD— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2017
06:06 pm: PM Modi, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to visit Sidi Saeed Mosque in Ahmedabad shortly.
Festive atmosphere! Ahmedabad welcomes a special guest to the World Heritage city pic.twitter.com/d8XprmVFYR— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) September 13, 2017
Ahmedabad: Japanese PM Shinzo Abe & his wife Akie Abe sign the visitor's book at Sabarmati Ashram. pic.twitter.com/QG3ifIzz7v— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2017
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, his wife Akie Abe and PM Narendra Modi at Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad. pic.twitter.com/JvhwZYf6WL— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2017
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, his wife Akie Abe and PM Narendra Modi at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. pic.twitter.com/I6yPNEqvCj— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2017
The India Cultural Road Show showcases glimpses of Indian culture and traditions, from across the states.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) September 13, 2017
Gujarat:Cultural performances being held as PM Modi & Japanese PM Shinzo Abe's road show to Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, continues. pic.twitter.com/v9TQIgJfdh— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2017
Gujarat: Crowd cheers as PM Modi & Japanese PM Shinzo Abe head towards Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. pic.twitter.com/I2ibf9JxZb— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2017
04:07 pm: Shinzo, PM Modi begin roadshow to Sabarmati Ashram.
03:52 pm: PM Modi's cavalcade leaves with Japanese Pm Shinzo Abe for Sabarmati Ashram for the roadshow.
Gujarat: Japanese PM Shinzo Abe accorded ceremonial reception on his arrival at Ahmedabad Airport pic.twitter.com/8nqDI4UShC— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2017
03:42 pm: Shinzo Abe receives Guard of Honour
03:40 pm: PM Modi receives his friend and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at Ahmedabad Airport.
03:30 pm: Japanese PM Shinzo Abe reaches Ahmedabad Airport, will be welcomed by PM Modi
Gujarat: PM Narendra Modi to receive Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at Ahmedabad Airport, shortly. pic.twitter.com/u7yrZgIG0b— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2017
03:13 pm: As India welcomes PM AbeShinzo, I thank him for his kind words on the robust India-Japan partnership and the strong potential of our ties, says PM Modi
03:06 pm: PM Modi reaches Ahmedabad airport. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe will land in another 20 minutes.
The 8 km-odd stretch that the cavalcade of the two leaders are traversing is replete with cultural programmes every few metres along the way. Around 28 stages have been set up for song and dance presentations by children to highlight India’s diverse culture.
The cities of Gandhinangar and Ahmedabad have been decked up with hoardings and cut-outs welcoming PM Abe. The residents witnessed an early Diwali as streets were spruced up with fluorescent lights across the city. Around 9,000 police personnel have been deployed across both cities as part of the tight security arrangements.
After visiting Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram, both leaders will head to the famous 'Sidi Saiyyid Ni Jaali', one of the most famous mosques of Ahmedabad. Built in 1573 in yellow sandstone, the mosque is renowned for its rich heritage and architecture including its famous intricate lattice or jaali work. PM Modi will be accompanying the visiting leader and his spouse Akie Abe to explain the cultural significance of the mosque.
On Thursday, a public function with around 10,000 people in attendance will see both leaders lay the foundation stone for work on the high-speed bullet train project. Of the 508-km stretch, 468 km (92 per cent) of the route will be elevated, 27 km (6 per cent) in tunnel and the remaining 13 km (2 per cent) will be on the ground.
The bullet train will also pass through the country's longest tunnel of 21 km, of which 7 km will be under the sea. The 508-km-long Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed rail Project (Standard Gauge) is estimated to cost Rs 1,10,000 crore on completion.
Of the Rs 1,10,000 crore, Japan will fund Rs 88,000 crore as loan at minimal 0.1 per cent interest and it is to be repaid in 50 years, with a grace period of 15 years. The Centre hopes the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train on August 15, 2022 to commemorate the 75th year of India's Independence, a year ahead of its scheduled launch in 2023.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes that Indian engineers have the capability and our workers have the efficiency to complete it a year earlier," Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said recently.
The public function will precede the 12th annual summit between leaders of the two countries where PM Modi and his Japanese counterpart PM Abe will review the progress in the "multifaceted cooperation" between the two countries and set the future direction for the special strategic partnership.
Gujarat Chief secretary JN Singh said 15 agreements will also be signed for investments in the state during PM Abe's visit. "These firms will invest in Gujarat during the next one month, for which MoUs will be signed during the summit," Singh told reporters.