Mumbai: The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has reportedly slammed brakes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, by stopping the release of funds. Farmers from Maharashtra and Gujarat have opposed this project and the JICA has made it clear to the Government of India to first resolve this issue, and only then will it release the funds.
Acquisition of land from farmers in Gujarat and Maharashtra is underway for the Rs one lakh crore project. However, farmers in both states are opposed to it, with over 1,000 farmers from Gujarat having filed affidavits in the Gujarat High Court last week, against the land acquisition process initiated by the State government. About 110 km of the 508-km train corridor passes through Palghar in Maharashtra where too there has been stiff resistance from farmers.
The company has made it clear that PM Modi must first resolve issues of farmers and only then can the project gain traction. As per the original schedule, the bullet train was to begin operations in 2022, but now, however, its fate hangs in balance. So far, JICA has given Rs 125 crore of the Rs 880000 crore, which was promised to India to fund the project. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project is being executed by the National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd, a special purpose vehicle of the Railways and the governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The 508-km corridor will require around 1,400 hectares of land in Gujarat and Maharashtra, 1,120 hectares of which is privately owned. Around 6,000 land owners will have to be compensated.
PTI ADDS: On Tuesday, amidst reports that the agency had stopped its funding for the project, the National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd insisted that no payment from JICA for the bullet train project is pending. The nodal agency for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor also said it is committed to taking care of the interests of the affected farmers and added that all social and environment impact assessment reports have already been submitted to the JICA.