Will Modi’s bullet train project be halted?

Radheshyam Jadhav November 27 | Updated on November 27, 2019 Published on November 27, 2019

File photo of a bullet train.   -  Bloomberg

With the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance set to take over in Maharashtra, the fate of BJP’s pet projects hangs in the

The fate of three major projects started by outgoing BJP Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' government hangs in the balance with a Shiv Sena-led government all set to take over the reins of the State.

The Shiv Sena was part of the government when the projects, including the Mumbai- Ahmedabad bullet train, Nanar oil refinery and Mumbai Metro car shed at Aarey in Mumbai were started. However, Sena leaders had different opinions on these projects. Notwithstanding the Sena’s objections, Fadnavis launched these multi-crore projects.

The bullet train might be halted

The future of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed train corridor, India’s first bullet train project, depends on the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress government’s stand. The BJP’s ambitious project, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad in September, 2017, is expected to be ready by 2022. Funded by a soft loan by Japan, the ₹1 trillion project has a track-length of 508 km from the Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai, to Sabarmati, Gujarat.

Speaking to the media today, Shiv Sena leader Deepak Kesarkar, who was Minister of State (MoS) for Finance in Fadnavis' government, said farmers are more important than a bullet train. As MoS, Kesarkar had opposed the budgetary provision for the bullet train.

End of the Nanar project

It’s The End for the proposed 60-million-tonne capacity mega refinery and petrochemical project proposed by Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd (RRPCL) in Nanar and other villages. After scrapping the project following Shiv Sena’s opposition, outgoing CM Devendra Fadnavis had hinted at its revival during the State Assembly election campaign. Three Indian public sector oil firms and Saudi Aramco had signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the ₹3 lakh crore project.

The Sena had opposed the project, saying that the local villagers were against it as they fear environmental degradation, which would affect agriculture and fishing. Now, with the Sena at the helms of affairs, the prospects of the project revival are bleak.

Mumbai Metro might change track

Uddhav Thackeray’ son Aditya has repeatedly challenged the State government's stand to construct a Metro depot on Aarey land in the western suburb of Goregaon in Mumbai.

Aditya insists that the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited’s (MMRCL) plan to build a Metro depot in the lush green Aarey land, considered the Lungs of the city, would be disastrous for biodiversity.

CM Fadnavis had ignored Aditya’s demand, saying: “The Supreme Court has already said that the proposed area for the car depot in Aarey Colony is not any forest land or a place rich in biodiversity, but it is government land where permission can be given. It has also ruled out the feasibility of any alternatives.”

Environmentalists are now hopeful that Aditya will walk the talk on his ‘environment friendly Metro’ agenda.

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Published on November 27, 2019
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