by Anushree Ghosh
The high-speed bullet train between the industrial hub Ahmedabad and Mumbai, the financial capital of India, is being built that stretches to almost 508.17kms. The route passes through the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat with one Union Territory, Dadra & Nagar Haveli. It is the first bullet train project in the country – running at 320kmph, the train will begin and terminate at the Sabarmati station in Gujarat. Travel time between Mumbai and Sabarmati will be 2.07 hours for the fast trains and 2.58 hours for trains with 12 stops.
The project was initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018 with the Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. While the target set for the completion of the project was 2023, delays due to several reasons, which may exceed the deadline. Initially, it struggled to take off, a strong community of farmers – The Gujarat Khedut Samaj, opposed the project on grounds of challenging the government’s modification of Section 10A that relieves it from the mandate of analyzing the social impact. The Maharashtra tribes too raised their voices against the.
The Centre didn’t take any action in time, when ordered by the Gujarat High Court to address the farmer’s petitions that were filed on Sept 18, 2018. The farmers also protested that the costs of their lands were not revised, according to the current market value as needed under Section 26 of the Land Acquisition Act.
According to a report published by The New Indian Express on Sept 24th, 2018, Jayesh Patel, president, Gujarat Khedut Samaj said: “We have again approached the SC regarding the Centre’s delay in filing its reply, which is slowing the high court hearing even as land acquisition process is going at a fast pace.”
In response to the ongoing tiff between the government and the farmers, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) refused to release the balance funds until the issue is resolved.
Although the project seems to gain some momentum, with the government claiming that most of the land acquisition is likely to be completed by December 2019. There are several factors that can still delay the project: Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train will affect around 54,000 mangroves on 13 hectares, to which many environmentalists have shown their concerns. The Bombay High Court has demanded expert opinion on the subject while hearing an application against the cutting of mangroves. Also, after the collapse of a bridge at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) in south Mumbai, The Nationalist Congress Party said that the money being spent on the bullet train project must be spent on upgrading the railway facilities in the metro cities.