The project to build a Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) got the much-needed push, with the signing of two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between the Japanese and Indian institutions. The DMIC Development Corporation and the Japanese JETRO are to promote 24 eco-cities or smart communities along the corridor, while the Japan Bank for International Cooperation has offered a $75 million loan facility to help establish a Project Development Fund to kick-start the project. The DMIC project comprises a host of sub-projects for infrastructure development — for instance industrial estates, power plants, and logistics parks — which are to come up on either side of the proposed 1,483 km Delhi-Mumbai railway freight corridor. The foundation stone for the rail corridor was laid by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh way back in October 2006. This Rs.22,000 crore project is expected to change the face of the western corridor, with the DMIC developing the entire hinterland. The Gujarat government has embarked on a vigorous drive to attract foreign investment for the project and it can be expected to gain momentum as a result of the recent visit of Japanese Prime Minister Yokio Hatoyama. In addition to harnessing Japanese investments and interests, the States along the western corridor will also be tapping foreign and domestic investments for the overall development of the region. The western rail freight corridor will link the Jawaharlal Nehru port and other ports in Gujarat to the industrial belts in the western, central, and northern regions extending up to New Delhi. A separate dedicated corridor to the east has also been planned by the Indian Railways, and the work on it was launched in February. The dedicated corridor is meant to focus exclusively on carrying freight, and the project, conceived in 2004-05, envisages 2,700 km of new freight lines and about 5,000 km of feeder lines.

The western corridor will connect Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Palanpur, Jaipur, Rewari, Tughlakabad, and Dadri. It is now for the Government of India, and all the agencies involved in the massive project — including the Railways, the State governments, and even the Planning Commission — to work in close coordination and ensure that it does not suffer undue delays and the consequent cost over-runs. Japan wants to showcase the DMIC as a model not just for India, but the whole world. To begin with, the Indian agencies need to expedite the basic work on the feasibility report, environmental clearances, land acquisition, and preparation of a blueprint for the whole project. The prospective investors will need a definite time frame and a detailed plan to finalise their investment plans.