CM Thackeray hints at roadblocks for Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project

CM Thackeray hints at roadblocks for Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently mentioned during the Union Budget that the government would actively pursue the bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe commemorated its construction by laying the foundation stone for the project in September 2017.

However, almost three years on, Maharashtra is now ruled by a coalition of the Shiv Sena, NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) and INC (Indian National Congress), while the BJP stands in the opposition. Maharashtra CM and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has now suggested that the plan may not go through as planned.

Thackeray spoke in an interview with Shiv Sena leader and Saamana editor Sanjay Raut on the publication’s YouTube channel.  

“The priorities of development should be decided after looking at the financial condition of the state. Just because someone is giving us a loan at low-interest rates or without interest, we should not burden ourselves… and then take lands of farmers… It’s not feasible to take care of the ‘white elephant’.”

“It is important to see who will benefit from the project and how much it will help businesses. Prove how useful it is, then will go to the public and see what to do,” Thackeray added. The proposed Mumbai - Ahmedabad bullet train has been opposed by several political parties in the past, including MNS chief Raj Thackeray. 

The ambitious Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project is expected to cut the travel time of frequent commuters significantly. The train will run across a stretch of 508kms which will also include a sea tunnel of 21kms.  

Two years ago, Union Minister Piyush Goyal mentioned that the project would be completed by 2022 which is well before its original deadline of December 2023. 

Apart from receiving criticism across some factions of the political spectrum, the project has faced additional roadblocks from farmers in Gujarat who have reportedly disallowed officials from conducting measurements of their lands that would be required for the project. Several other farmers on the path of the project are said to be opposed to this proposal, which could mean bad news for the project’s future.

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