New Delhi: The Rs 98,000 crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project has run into a major problem.
According to a report, the Maharashtra government is very reluctant to allow the railways to build the Mumbai station underground at Bandra-Kurla complex (BKC).
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The plans were prepared by Japanese consultants, who surveyed all options and zeroed in on this area after speaking with state authorities.
But the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government has told the railway authorities that the proposed station will hamper its plans to build a financial centre at the same place. The state government contends that after the underground station work begins, it will be impossible to build the centre on the area.
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In May, Railway Ministry officials held two rounds of meetings with Maharashtra officials, the chief secretary and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, but failed to arrive at a breakthrough. The Fadnavis government claims that the station would lead to a loss of Rs 10,000 crore.
The Railway ministry is now considering approaching Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a solution.
Railways needs only 0.9 hectares to build access to the underground station while the total land area available is 28 hectares. But Maharashtra has said that because of the existing building bylaws and rules governing commercial establishments, a significant portion would become inaccessible for the proposed financial centre.
The argument that the railway station’s proximity to the financial centre would be good for enhance the latter’s profile has also failed to cut ice with the state.
“Once an underground station is built there, we will not be able to build anything on the ground, so the loss of land to us is more than just 0.9 hectares,” U P S Madan, commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), was quoted as saying.
The state government also believes that since only a small part of the proposed bullet train corridor falls in Maharashtra, a revenue loss of Rs 10,000 crore is not justified.
Railways has been asked to extend the project beyond Mumbai or use its own land. At present, the Railways has vacant land in both Bandra and Kurla, but BKC was chosen for its primacy of location.