India’s first bullet train is all set to roll down the tracks soon as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japan’s premier Shinzo Abe will together lay the foundation stone of the 508-km corridor between Ahmedabad and Mumbai during the latter’s visit to India in September.
The lay foundation ceremony will be held in Ahmedabad keeping in view the Gujarat Assembly polls slated for November-December this year. The bullet train project, estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, will be displayed as a major achievement of the Modi government, a media report cited sources as saying.
Gujarat is PM Modi’s home state and the BJP doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned to retain its fort.
The bullet train will reduce the journey between Ahmedabad and Mumbai to two hours from seven. It will start underground from the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai and travel 27 km through a tunnel in the sea before emerging over ground at Thane.
According to the report, to ensure that the dream project does not get delayed, Indian Railways is all set to hire a consultant who will look into land acquisition and other financial issues. He will be responsible to make sure that every land owner gets full compensation and jobs are given to their family members.
Initially, the Japanese authorities, providing technical assistance to Indian Railways, suggested constructing a major portion of the corridor on surface. However, the plan was later modified to take the elevated route primarily to avoid delays. Also, the change would do away with legal and environmental hurdles regarding land acquisition.
It is estimated that approximately 850 hectares of land would be required for the bullet train project. Since the project was earlier planned on surface, it would have required more land. However, the elevated route would escalate the project.
But on the other hand, for an elevated corridor, the compensation amount to land owners will be little. Also, it will ensure speedy execution of the project.
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail (MAHSR), popularly known as the bullet train, will start ferrying passengers from 2023, railway minister Suresh Prabhu told Lok Sabha during Question Hour last week.
India and Japan had signed a memorandum of cooperation for the project in late 2015. The project is part of Modi’s key promises made ahead of the general elections in 2014.