Modi, Abe lay foundation for India’s 1st bullet train project; `6K cr to be released immediately; 825 hectares land will be acquired.
Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Thursday laid the foundation stone for India’s first bullet train project, the ambitious Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) Ahmedabad-Mumbai line, based on Japan’s Shinkansen super speed train technology.
The high speed rail project is scheduled to be completed by 2022. Of the Rs 1.08 lakh crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent for 50 years. The repayment will begin after 15 years.
The first tranche of the loan, Rs 6,000 crore, would be released immediately, while the remaining tranches will come after the completion of land acquisition. About 825 hectares of land would be acquired for the project.
In his address after the ceremony, Modi said the bullet train would add pace to the country’s development, and would also help in empowerment of the poor. “To grow one needs to expand his dreams and decide his strength to achieve that. It’s new India which has to fly high,” Modi said.
Lauding Japan, he said the country was such a friend that it gave a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at 0.1 per cent interest for the project. “The bullet train is in a way a big gift from Japan to India. It is in a way a project being constructed for free,” Modi said.
Addressing a huge crowd at the Athletics Stadium in Sabarmati, Modi made it a point to bring in the flavour of Gujarat, where elections are due in the next few months. “It will not just reduce distance but also bring the people closer. The train will go from my Gujarat to my Mumbai. It will mean less cars on roads, it will mean a cleaner environment and also bring in revenue,” he said.
Modi, sometimes breaking into Gujarati during his Hindi speech, addressed his constituency by praising their art of bargaining. “We Indians, specially Gujaratis, when we go to buy or sell anything, we always bargain, we take stock of every penny.
When we go to buy a small bike, to take a loan, we visit 10 banks and calculate which bank is giving less interest. Then we calculate and we are happy even with half per cent less interest,” he said.
The Japanese Prime Minister meanwhile said, “A strong India is in Japan’s interest, and a strong Japan is in India’s interest. Today, on this day, that part of the bright future is seen in solid form.” He said that Japan’s Shinkansen Technology, which will power India’s bullet train project, has changed his country’s economy, society and people’s lives.