Mumbai: The Shiv Sena has criticised the Mumbai–Ahmedabad bullet train project, alleging it will benefit only Gujarat and not Maharashtra. It has also alleged that the Japan government has refused to give jobs to locals in the project and hence local employment will not get a boost from the ambitious project, which will cost more than Rs 1 lakh crore. The Sena, which is a part of the National Democratic Alliance, said the project was not a dream of the common man but that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, the Sena sought to know if the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed train project really fits into the needs of the country. The criticism came on a day when Mr Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone of India’s first bullet train project in Ahmedabad.
“We are getting a bullet train without asking for it. We do not know exactly which problem will this solve. Former Prime Minister Pandit Nehru laid the foundation of several projects, from Bhakra Nangal to Bhaba Atomic Research Centre, to ensure the country advances in technology and science. All these projects were needed for the nation. Does this bullet train fit into the needs of the country?” the Sena asked.
Out of the estimated Rs 1,08,000 crore cost of the project, at least Rs 30,000 crore would have to be shelled out by the Maharashtra government, it said. “The demands for loan waiver of farmers were being made since many years. Nobody sought a bullet train. Modi’s dream is not of the common man but of the rich and industrialists,” the Sena said.
Arguments that the bullet train project will create employment were false, because Japan would bring everything required, right from the machinery to labourers for the project, the editorial said. The high-speed train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is expected to be completed by 2022.
The train is expected to cut the journey time from the current six hours to less than three hours. Of the 508-km route and 12 stations of the bullet train, 120 km and four stations will fall in Maharashtra.
Japan has extended a soft loan for the ambitious project conceptualised by Mr Modi.
PROTEST AT BOISAR RAILWAY
Agroup of farmers staged a protest on Thursday outside Boisar railway station in Palghar district, against the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, expressing fear that they would lose their land on account of it. The protest coincided with the launch of the project by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad. The farmers, who waved black flags and raised slogans against the project outside the railway station, said they would be ruined if their agricultural lands were taken for the project, which runs through the area.