Can the bullet train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad create a big difference? The distance separating the cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad may be roughly 350 miles but that doesn't deter the two of them coming closer to each other than ever before. The ambitious bullet train project launched by the Government in the year 2018 with a total budget outlay of approximately Rs 1 Lakh crores has been a topic of critic both positive and negative. The first of its kind high-speed train is expected to run by 2022.
Background:- Let's say why to connect Ahmedabad and Mumbai of all the cities in the country. The similarity between Mumbai and Ahmedabad ends at both being metros. Housing a population of almost 2 crores of people Mumbai is the city of dreams. Majority of them have migrated from all over the country seeking trade and employment Mumbai being the financial capital of India is a source of employment and trade opportunities. Of the nearby cities which could have been selected for such a project, Ahmedabad stands apart as it boasts the Gujarat model form of development. Even though we have bus routes, flights, and trains connecting these cities there is not much of inter city movement.
Procedure:- A mega project with lakhs of crores of investment by Japan has a lot of intricate procedures and protocols. 4 years as the target seems ambitious but it is doable as Japan is the 1st country to have bullet trains in the year 1964 and still boasts the best. First, it involves planning the route of the said project. From Ahmedabad to Mumbai the train will travel distance in hours. To implement such a project among other things vital capital, technology, labour and land. The 1st three dependent on the latter. The disbursement of the loans by Japan depends on the procurement of land by the Government. Huge tracks of agricultural and non-agricultural land are sought after by the authority. The locals are unwilling to give up their only source of livelihood. The coordination between both the states lower level authorities to procure land is not in the correct direction.
Boon or Bane:- For many, the bullet is a beacon of hope for the future. For the new digital and fastest growing economy, a bullet train is a must have transport feature present in almost all developed countries. Such an achievement will propel India to the future of the transport sector. Regardless of the capital investment, the bullet train will be ecologically a question mark. The construction of such a multi-sphere project is going to damage the air quality, land acquired for the project under agriculture would be converted leading to loss of ecosystems.
On the other hand, bullet trains are a boon to the growing carbon pollution. Clean fuel, faster timeline, reduction in traffic congestion will all help the environment in long-term.
Stuck in the pipeline:- The land acquisition for bullet train project has seen a lot of opposition. The case is stuck in the Gujarat HC as petitioners are reluctant to leave their land. The compensation promises by the Government has a bitter taste with the public. The entire acquisition should be completed on time to start the project. Inflation and cost escalation can lead to further monetary complications.
Way forward: The lower level bureaucracy and the political executive must be involved in the talks with the public directly. Convincing them for Direct Benefit transfer can help the public in increasing their trust in the Government and reducing red tape along with corruption. Emerging news from Gujarat is the migrant exodus due to mob violence on migrants from UP and Bihar. This will cause long-term infrastructure labour problems. Also, the gender gap must be reduced in this project by involving the optimum ratio of females to males. Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations must be kept in the framework from the beginning of the project implementation. Eco green transport system are the way of the future.
- Karthiayani S Nair