State departments wary of bullet train losses: RTI reply

The Narendra Modi government’s Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project may turn out to be a loss-making proposition and burden Maharashtra’s already dwindling finances, the latest information obtained by an activist under the Right to Information (RTI) has revealed.

Concerns over the project:

Several objections have been raised by various departments over the economic viability of the Shinkansen train, which could result in losses in the form of wasted Floor Space Index (FSI) and delayed loan repayment in the absence of proper frameworks.

Some part of the FSI at the station proposed at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai could “remain unutilised because of the height restrictions, leading to revenue losses”.

The government is being criticised for clearing a project which has no practical benefit for the State and would add financial stress.

Moreover, the ministerial committee headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has not met to discuss the project since being incorporated in February 2017. The committee was tasked with carrying out an in-depth study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency report and the project’s feasibility.

Both Planning and Finance departments have called for a thorough study of bullet train economics in other countries before a decision is taken on its feasibility in India. Additionally, the departments said the Centre must clarify the formula for sharing the loan burden if the project remains loss-making for a long period of time. Since the State is coping with serious loss in income and further burden of loans, the impact of this project on government finances needs to be considered.

The train, with a capacity of 750 passengers, will travel at speeds between 320 km/hr and 350km/hr and is expected to reduce travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai to three-and-a-half hours or less from the present eight. The project is expected to be completed in seven years.

How India benefits from bullet train?

High-speed connectivity – This will facilitate economic growth. Smaller cities along the way can also be connected with high-speed transit facility to these economic Centres through the bullet train network.

The bullet train project is expected to create 4,000 direct job opportunities, along with 20,000 indirect jobs. 20,000 construction workers will also be employed during the set up period of Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train.

Urban expansion – New bullet train stations set to come up along the route will attract urban growth. This will again shift the pressure of urbanisation from the existing urban Centres.

Open new avenues – When completed, the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project will present as a favorable destination for high-speed train technologies, attracting other parties working in the field.

The geostrategic importance of Bullet trains is:

The bullet train is a symbol of strong trust between India and Japan as it involves the technology transfer at the core of this deal.

The bullet train will create a substantial positive impact on the Indian economy thus building the economic influence of country in Asia and thus all over the world. In the longer duration of time, this technology will reduce the dependence of India on Middle East countries for oil and other fuel products.

Being the clean technology India will set an example for cleaner methods for mass transportation, especially for other developing countries. For Japan too, this deal has geostrategic meaning. Earlier Japan has lost with China in the export of Bullet trains in Thailand and Indonesia. This deal is a diplomatic win for Japan.

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