NEW DELHI: With the 2019 Lok Sabha elections weighing high on the Narendra Modi-led government, the Centre has sought commissioning of India’s first Bullet train between Ahmedabad-Mumbai a year before scheduled 2023 target with an aim to allow expenditure on over Rs one lakh crore showpiece project trickle down to spur economy, besides creating feel good factor about leadership of Prime Minister.
“The High-Speed Rail Corporation (HSRC), which is the special purpose vehicle for the execution of the Japanese-funded Bullet train project, to advance the commissioning of the ambitious project a year ahead of the target. The Prime Minister is keen that India’s first Bullet train should begin operation in 2022. Accordingly, the HSRC has to fast-track its operations to meet the deadline,” sources in the government said.
Incidentally, a team of high-ranking officials, who will lead the execution of the high-speed corridor between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, is currently in Tokyo for a rigorous training. “By October, the HSRC has been asked to commission training centre at Gandhinagar, which will impart technical and management skill to execute and operate the high speed rail system. This Centre is being developed in association with Japan to train the future leaders,” sources added.
In an apparent indication for the project gaining full-steam, designs of the entire length of the high speed corridor have been prepared and shared with the Gujarat and Maharashtra government to help them begin acquisition of land at the earliest. “The HSRC has also completed extensive study of the critical seven km long tunnel under the reef sea bed, which will be built with the Japanese assistance, which will also be sought for the highly congested short Sabarmati and Ahmedabad section. But the rest part of the 508 km long high speed corridor will be built by Indian companies, without the conditionality of tying up with an Japanese firms. Almost Rs 30,000 crore of the civil works will go to the Indian companies,” sources said.
Senior officials in the government said that with designs and alignments ready for the high speed corridor, the exercise to acquire land will soon begin for which a consultant has been engaged who has been asked to follow the “Right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement Act, 2013 in letter and spirit”. “All affected persons, including labourers eking out livelihoods from land to be acquired will be issued entitlement cards with specifically mentioned entitlements, which will be guaranteed by the HSRC. Even the enabling modes of receiving the entitlements, including the Aadhar cards and bank accounts will be opened for those not having them by the agencies of the HSRC,” sources said, adding that the high speed rail corridor has to be established as a model for others on the lines of Delhi Metro.