Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray yesterday (Tuesday, 4th February 2020) likened the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project to a “white elephant”, saying a decision on it will be taken after he is convinced it will boost industrial development of the state.
Referring to the Centre’s ambitious bullet train project, which has faced stiff opposition from farmers and tribals whose lands are to be acquired, Thackeray said there should be a comprehensive discussion on its viability.
“Who will benefit from the bullet train? How will trade and industry in Maharashtra get a boost because of it? If it is useful, convince me and then let’s go before people and decide what to do,” the chief minister said.
“The bullet train may be a dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but when you wake up, it is not a dream, you have to face the reality,” he said.
“We have to see what is urgent and not take up something because we are getting loan at zero interest or less interest. We acquire farmers’ land for no reason and then look after these white elephants. This is not right,” he said.
Notably, the Narendra Modi government has set the deadline of completing the bullet train project by August 15, 2022, when India marks 75 years of Independence.
The introduction of the first bullet train, which is known as the Shinkansen in Japan, is expected to mark India’s shift to an era of high-speed trains capable of hitting speeds of up to 350 km per hour.
Of the 508.17-km-long bullet train corridor, 155.76 km will be in Maharashtra, 348.04 km in Gujarat and 4.3 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Thackeray said his government was in the process of reviewing the economic situation of Maharashtra.