The Bullet Train project, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream project of a high-speed train corridor, gets its first jolt.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has stopped funding for the construction of the railway network, citing farmers’ issues. JICA has asked the government to first address the issues concerning farmers whose land is being acquired for the Rs. 1-lakh crore project, which will connect the states of Gujarat with Maharashtra, reported the New Indian Express.
The Mumbai-Ahmadabad Bullet Train project is the pet project of PM Narendra Modi. This is a huge set back for the PM personally as JICA stopped funding for the construction of railway network after over a 1,000 farmers wrote a letter asking them to stop funds, citing acquirement of land by overlooking the prescribed guidelines.
The government has also acted on this and has formed a special committee to look into the issue and but fund crunch could make the deadline of 2022 highly unachievable.
JICA was formed in 2003 and since then it coordinates official development assistance for the government of Japan. As reported by Indiatimes, its aim is to ‘contribute to the promotion of international cooperation as well as the sound development of Japanese and global economy by supporting the socioeconomic development, recovery or economic stability of developing regions.’
The National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHRCL)-the incumbent body has failed to make any headway in various parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Palghar in Maharashtra is one area where farmers have resisted the land acquirement process consistently. Out of 508 km long project, about 110 km passes through Palghar. Around 850 hectares of land. Several land acquisition issues have come up on the two states through which the project is planned to be laid. Apart from the money factor, the farmers have also demanded basic amenities like common ponds, schools, solar lights and doctors in villages.
Similarly in the neighbouring state of Gujarat too, around 850 hectares is required to be acquired for the project from around 5,000 families across eight districts. There are various acquirement issues in this state as well. The farmers, mainly from Gujarat had written to JICA and they have also approached Gujarat High Court against the acquirement of the land.
“The recent developments have miffed the Japanese agency. The PMO has taken note of it and has ordered to form a special committee to look into it,” a senior Finance Ministry official told the newspaper Business Today.
As per reports, JICA had released only Rs. 125 crore until now for the project, out of the total Rs. 80,000 crore committed by them towards the project. The project is estimated to cost roughly Rs. 1 lakh crore.