Railway Minister Piyush Goyal clashes with Shiv Sena MPs on bullet train

New Delhi

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday witnessed a heated exchange between the Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Shiv Sena MPs. The provocation came when Goyal said in response to a question that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government has put a "full stop" to the work of Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train since it came to power one and a half years ago.

Sena MP Pratap Rao Jadhav of Buldhana objected to the reply saying his question pertained to the high-speed train between Mumbai and Nagpur and how soon the Railway Ministry will give its clearance, instead of pu­sh­ing the project to the third level, but the minister had introduced the issue of Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train.

Goyal said he has his own doubts about a high-speed train between Mumbai and Nagpur, especially since the Maharashtra government has been creating obstacles in its path. He said he is himself from Mumbai and would want the city connected with the bullet trains and it is the Prime Minister's dream to have a network of high-speed and semi high-speed trains.

He pointed out 95% land in Gujarat and Dadra & Nagar Haveli has been acquired for the bullet train, but only 24% land acquisition has taken place in Maharashtra because of which the work of the bullet train is not progressing. He also took exception to Jadhav using "unparliamentary words" and levelling charges against him.

"I don't know what is the intention of these leaders who are not cooperating with us even in development works?’’ the Railway Minister said.

Jadhav retorted the "Marathi" people are opposing the bullet train because of the general perception that the Modi government wants all big corporate offices to shift from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. He asserted it was people’s opposition and not that of the state government which was creating impediments. As far as he is concerned, the Mumbai-Nagpur bullet train can be extended up to Kolkata.’’

Goyal said no such shifting to Ahmedabad was taking place. And, if so, it may be because of the attitude of the MVA government: people were leaving Mumbai because of the Covid pandemic and a corrupt government in Maharashtra. The member should himself ask who is responsible for such an exodus, the Minister said.

Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant, MP from South Mumbai, protested the minister is peddling a half truth and not disclosing the Centre is sitting tight on Rs1-lakh crore given to the state government. The railway minister is also mum on the land for the Metro car shed in Mumbai.

Goyal disputed Sawant's claim the Centre is sitting on the funds, stating he would provide him details of how much the Railways has to recover from the state government. He said many railway projects are stuck up because of the state's non-cooperation. As regards the Metro shed, Goyal said the complete project is ready and the shed was built at the designated place but the state government’s vanity is now involved in the matter and it has seized Centre's land. He said the state government has no powers to acquire the salt commissioner's land as there is a due process for doing so. Without adhering to that, no state government can take over the Centre’s land, he asserted.

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