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State allocates BKC plot for Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train with conditions

Thursday, September 14, 2017
By Prashant Hamine

A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe perform the ground breaking ceremony for India's bullet train between Mumbai-Ahmedabad, the State Government has agreed to allocate 0.9 hectares of land at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) required for the railway station, but with certain pre-conditions. A Government Resolution (GR) issued by Home department (Transport) on September 12 has set conditions that, the cost of the land at BKC to be allocated by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), should be considered “included” in the State Government's share in the project.

The state has asked the Center and Railways to adjust the Rs 125 crore preliminary share of the state in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project with the cost of the plot of land in BKC. Besides this, a senior official from the Chief Ministers Office (CMO), while speaking to newspersons on the condition of anonymity, further disclosed that the State Government wants Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA) to fund the Mumbai-Nagpur bullet train project on the same lines as the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project. The Railways will conduct a feasibility survey for the Mumbai-Nagpur bullet train project and give its approval for the same.

The GR further states that the construction of the railway station at BKC should not adversely affect the construction of the proposed International Financial Services Center (IFSC) and its economic viability. Furthermore, the state wants the Center and Railways to ensure that the entry and exit of the bullet train station and its ventilation system be constructed within the 0.9 hectares plot allocated by the MMRDA. The GR states that the Railway Ministry should first explore the viability of alternate site recommended by the state at BKC itself. However, if the alternate site is not viable then only the 0.9 hectares of land at BKC will be considered. However, the State Government has already approved allocation of 50.31 hectares of land at BKC for the IFSC, thus making complicating matters for the railways.

The estimated cost of the 508 Km Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project is pegged at Rs 1,08,000 crore, for which the Japanese Government will give a loan at 0.1 percent interest for 50 years. The project involves a share component of 50 percent by the Railways and 25 percent each by Maharashtra and Gujarat. The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to be set up for the construction of the project will have a share capital of Rs 20,000 crore, of which Maharashtras share will be Rs 5,000 crore. Of the initial deposit of Rs 500 crore towards the share capital, the states initial share shall be Rs 125 crore.

The speed of the bullet trains will be 320-350 Kms per hour and the project is to be constructed within seven years. Out of the 508 Kms long route, 120 Kms falls in Maharashtra and out of the 12 proposed stations four of them are in Maharashtra. The route will benefit people from Mumbai and Thane districts as the train journey will cut down the normal travel time from current six hours to 2-2.30 hours.

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