Bullet train project not priority for Maharashtra: minister

Subhash Desai

Subhash Desai   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

Explaining the rationale behind reviewing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, minister Subhash Desai on Monday said the project does not serve the interest of the people of the State and therefore, is not a priority.

He said Palghar residents are bearing the brunt of another road corridor — a super highway — being planned from Dahisar to Surat, a project that will also be scrutinised, along with every infrastructure project being implemented in the State.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday announced a review of the bullet train project touted to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project. The government will come out with a white paper on the State’s finances. Last week, Mr. Thackeray had stayed work on the Metro 3 car shed inside Aarey colony, pending review. He had also ordered that cases lodged against those who protested the tree-cutting be withdrawn. Sources in the Shiv Sena said the government is exploring alternatives to the car shed’s location.

“Do people of Maharashtra really need a bullet train? Are there those many people in Mumbai who will be using it? It might help people coming from Gujarat to Maharashtra but is it so the other way round? We have been told that several businessmen have bought land around the bullet train route, especially in Palghar. All projects will be reviewed; there might be some projects that may be fast-tracked. We are already on the job,” Mr. Desai told The Hindu.

About the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Mahamarg, the minister said it does not mean they are cancelling every project started by the previous regime. “We will ask for information about it. If it were unnecessary we would have stopped it the way we halted Nanar. This project is for the benefit of Maharashtra, connecting Mumbai and Nagpur. We do not feel like opposing it; it will help in goods transport.”

In case of Metro, he said the works already under way will not be stopped but new projects will not be taken up haphazardly. “Instead, people’s needs will be focused on, like employment generation and farmers’ welfare.”

Asked about the future of the Metro car shed, he said, “We will go through options. The Kanjurmarg plot is going to cost ₹1,000 crore more. If the Metro 3 budget is ₹35,000 crore, why can’t they add another ₹1,000 crore? At what cost are we saving the money, at the cost of environment?”

Mr. Desai said the government wants to focus on giving basic amenities to people and on social justice.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 10:06:31 PM |

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