Bengaluru: Former Union Minister Jairam Mahesh has criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bullet train project and said the railways must instead invest on bio-toilets in trains to clean up the ‘world’s longest sewage line’.
“A bullet train will cost us Rs 150 crore per km and 540 km distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will cost us close to Rs 65,000 crore. Do we really need it?” he asked.
On the sidelines of T.N. Khoshoo Memorial Award 2014 ceremony, which was awarded to Prof Mahesh Rangarajan, historian and Director, Nehru Memorial Museum, New Delhi, Mr Ramesh pointed out that when UPA II launched the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, it was aimed at making all the villagers in the country free from open defecation and it had also emphasised on the need to make the Indian railway tracks free of litter.
“We have the longest train track system in the world, but the entire railway line has become a sewage line. Currently India has 60,000 railway coaches and about 11 trains are fitted with the bio-toilets designed by the DRDO organisation.
We must ensure that the new coaches, about 4,000 coaches are added every year, must come with four bio-toilets in each bogie. Unless this is done campaigns like Swachh Bharat will remain mere slogans,” he said.
The former minister also empahsised the need to preserve Western Ghats landscape and demanded that the government must implement the panel reports on the Ghats, rather than dwelling on the differences between two reports.
Mr Ramesh also chaired the panel discussion on ‘Challenges to conservation in the context of a pro-growth development agenda’.
The discussion featured Prof Rangarajan and wildlife conservationists Praveen Bhargav and Vidya Athreya.