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Maharashtra may lose Mumbai-Ahd bullet train as MMRDA says no land

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project – the Rs 65,000 crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train service – may be shifted out of Maharashtra if the Railways Ministry and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) fail to arrive at an agreement over the allocation of land. 

“MMRDA is unable to provide land needed for the bullet train terminal in the BKC which has been its major revenue generating source,” MMRDA joint commissioner Dilip Kawathkar told Business Standard. 

“MMRDA has already conveyed its stand to the union government,” he said, adding that there has been no communication from Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu asking MMRDA to reconsider its stand.

In view of the MMRDA’s stand, the Union Railways Ministry has launched an exercise to explore suitable location out of Maharashtra, sources said. The union minister of railways Suresh Prabhu has decided to hold meetings soon with state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also heads the MMRDA, to find a way out of the impasse.

The land is required for the proposed terminal at the sprawling Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in the central Mumbai suburbs. MMRDA, the town planning and nodal agency involved in the implementation of transportation infrastructure development projects in Mumbai metropolitan area, has expressed its inability to provide the large land parcel needed for the project. It has said that BKC has become a business centre and any additional land will be required to house offices of many national and international companies expected in this area. 

A BJP state cabinet minister, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he was hoping that the issue would be settled after the proposed meeting between Prabhu and Fadnavis. 

“Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train will be quite crucial especially when the chief minister has already declared state government’s resolve to transform Mumbai into the international finance centre with the help of the central government,” the minister said, adding that the Centre has already made budgetary allocation of Rs 100 crore for the project.

The 520 km distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is expected to be covered at an operating speed of 350 kilometre per hour, reducing the eight-hour commute time by at least 50%. The Railways Ministry has estimated a cost of Rs 125 crore per km for the proposed high-speed corridor.

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