Despite uncertainty over land acquisition in Maharashtra for the bullet train project, Railways have said that all efforts are being made to complete it in one phase. While addressing media over video conferencing on December 26, Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman of Railway Board, said that Indian Railways is making efforts to commission the entire bullet train project end-to-end. He said, “Indian Railways wants to commission the bullet train project together in both Gujarat and Maharashtra, and we have planned accordingly.”
However, if the land acquisition is not completed in Maharashtra soon, the project may be completed in two phases. Accordingly, it has been suggested that the first project will be completed from Ahmedabad to Vapi, which will mean the entire first phase of the project will be in Gujarat, where land acquisition is going on smoothly. “If we get the land, then the project can be commissioned in both Gujarat and Maharashtra. We are also preparing whether we can run bullet train till Vapi (Gujarat) in the first phase if there is a delay in land acquisition in Maharashtra,” Vinod Kumar Yadav said.
More than 80% of the land acquisition has been done in Gujarat. However, the project is being delayed as it is taking time to acquire land in Maharashtra. Yadav further said that the Maharashtra government has assured that they will make more efforts to ensure 80 percent of the land required for the project is made available in the next four months.
Tenders are invited only when 80-90 percent of the land is available
Vinod said that Indian Railways invites tenders in any project only when 80 to 90 percent of the land required for the project is under their control. Also, it is essential that for the remaining 10 to 20 percent of the land, there is certainty that it will be acquired on time so that when the project starts, it does not get halted due to land unavailability.
Bullet train project
Bullet train in India was first talked about in 2009-2010 under UPA-2. However, it took several years to complete the study required. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Mumbai–Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor project was approved in May 2014. The project will use Shinkansen technology of Japan, which will be transferred to support the Make in India programme as per the Indian Railway’s announcement in December 2015. The project was expected to be completed by 2023, but due to a delay in acquiring the land, the project has been pushed to be completed by December 2028.