India and Japan have finally agreed on a fully elevated bullet train corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. However, Japanese experts are also exploring the feasibility of constructing the corridor underground as proposed by the Indian Railways. Senior railway officials said this will rid land acquisition by 50 per cent thought the project cost would go up by nearly Rs 10,000 crore. Sources said Japan is keen on constructing the corridor on the surface as it would be cheaper. However, given the inordinate delay in several projects due to land acquisition and subsequent legal hurdles, the Japanese government is keeping both options open. The Japanese government will be bearing 80 per cent of the total project cost and the increase in cost estimate has to be borne by both India and Japan. The actual work on the project is scheduled to begin next year after signing of the loan agreement between Indian... more...
Railways and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The agreement is likely to be signed early 2017. Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has said that the bullet train will start in 2023 but if the Indian and Japanese governments agree to the idea of an elevated corridor, the deadline can also be advanced. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) submitted to the government has proposed 25 per cent elevated corridor, 64 per cent surface corridor and six per cent underground corridor. This includes the 21-km underwater tunnel between Thane creek and Virar in Mumbai. "India and Japan have agreed on changing the design. The DPR will be modified accordingly. Construction of an elevated or underground corridor will be costlier but the government will save on the cost of land acquisition," said a senior railway official. "Constructing the elevated corridor will save the government the hassles of land acquisition that can delay the project. An elevated corridor will be financially more viable as compared to the compensation amount to be given to land owners," he added. "Also, it will ensure speedy execution of the project. However, this may result in cost overrun. At present, the project is estimated to cost Rs 97,636 crore, but with modifications in design, it may go up to Rs 1.08 lakh crore," the official further said. Officials said that since the bullet train corridor is the dream project of Narendra Modi, the government wants to ensure that it does not get stuck in environmental and legal tangles. Already more than 400 railway projects have been stuck in land acquisition rows and consequent delay in construction work. This, according to a CAG report of 2015, has resulted in cost overrun of Rs 1.07 lakh crore. The Railways faced major hurdles in acquiring land for its ambitious dedicated freight corridors that will significantly decongest the railway network and increase the speed of passenger trains.
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