Even as political opposition continues for the bullet train project from states like Maharashtra and Gujarat, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal remains optimistic and does not see “any stress” in getting land for the ambitious high-speed rail (HSR) project, primarily on the increased compensation the government is offering.
A source from the government echoed his view and said that Japan, which is giving soft loans for the project, is increasing its funding for the project to $5 billion per year from the earlier commitment of $3 billion.
“The environmental and social impact studies have either been completed or are nearing completion. I personally don’t see any stress in getting the land (for the project), Goyal told media representatives. The Railways Minister said, “The government is not facing any resistance on land acquisition for infrastructure projects ever since it increased the compensation to four times the value.” He added that in the case of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, the same has been upped to five times if it is through consent.
Speaking about the Mumbai-Ahmedabad metro, the minister said that he has had detailed discussions with the chief ministers of both Maharashtra and Gujarat to expedite the project. Drawing comparisons with the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed connectivity project, he said India too aspires to develop the Mumbai-Ahmedabad stretch into a high-growth zone, just like the stretch between the two Chinese cities.
Moreover, Goyal said he has had discussions with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on the country’s HSR ambitions, adding that the multilateral institution has evinced interest in financing some projects in the future. He also added that that there will be more HSR corridors apart from the Mumbai-Ahmedabad stretch, which will be floated by the government in the future.
Jin Liqun, President, AIIB, expressed a lot of interest in taking up the next level of HSR corridor projects that India envisages going forward. GQ and its laterals also discussed that where there is demand for high-speed connectivity, AIIB would possibly be on the horizon.
- Rahul Kamat