Prepared to commission Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor in phases: Chairman, Railway Board

New Delhi: The Indian Railways is prepared to operationalize the Mumbai-Gujarat high speed rail corridor in phases if land acquisition in Maharashtra is delayed unreasonably, Chairman Railway Board VK Yadav said on Saturday. While work on India’s first bullet train project is in full swing in Gujarat, Maharashtra has been a bit of a bottleneck, with the project witnessing resistance from farmer groups, and the State government alike. The project is expected to be commissioned in 2024. Addressing reporters on Saturday, Yadav said that the National transporter is “prepared” to see that the project can be commissioned in phases if need arises, although the ministry would like to commission the entire stretch at once. “Indian Railways is making efforts that the entire bullet train project is commissioned end-to end, at once, and we have planned accordingly,” Yadav told reporters. In linear projects, tenders cannot be invited unless land is acquired, Yadav said. The ministry had several rounds of discussions with the Maharashtra government, and they have been assured that in the next four months, more than 80% land acquisition in the State will be complete, Yadav said. “If that happens, and we are able to invite tenders, then both the phases will be commissioned at once. We are also preparing that if for some reason there is a lot of delay in land acquisition in Maharashtra, then in the first phase, we can commission the project till Vapi (in Gujarat), which is about 325 km stretch,” he added. More clarity, however, will come in once the status on land acquisition in Maharashtra is clear, Yadav said. Only around 26% of the required land in Maharashtra has been acquired so far. In all, 68% of the total land required for the project has been acquired.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. The project is estimated to cost around Rs 1.1 lakh crore, with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency financing 81% of the project cost.
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