Bullet train like ‘white elephant’, viable only if it helps Maharashtra: CM Thackeray
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday compared the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project to a “white elephant”, saying it will receive the state government’s support only if it boosts industrial development.
Thackeray, in an interview with his own party’s mouthpiece, ‘Saamana’, said there should be a comprehensive discussion on the viability of the Centre’s bullet train project before one can take a decision on it.
The project, approved by the previous BJP-led government in the state, is facing stiff opposition from farmers and tribals whose lands are to be acquired, along with the state’s ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi alliance comprising the Sena, NCP & Congress.
“Who will benefit from the bullet train? How will trade and industry in Maharashtra get a boost because of it? If it is useful, convince me and then let”s go before people and decide what to do,” the chief minister said.
“The bullet train may be a dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but when you wake up, it is not a dream, you have to face the reality,” he said.
Developmental projects need to be prioritised considering the state’s financial situation, Thackeray said in the interview to Saamana’s executive editor and senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut.
“We have to see what is urgent and not take up something because we are getting loan at zero interest or less interest. We acquire farmers’ land for no reason and then look after these white elephants. This is not right,” he said.
The Narendra Modi-led Central government has set the deadline for completing the bullet train project by August 15, 2022, when India marks 75 years of Independence.
The introduction of the first bullet train, which is known as the Shinkansen in Japan, is expected to mark India’s shift to an era of high-speed trains capable of hitting speeds of up to 350 km per hour.
Of the 508.17-km-long bullet train corridor, 155.76 km will be in Maharashtra, 348.04 km in Gujarat and 4.3 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Meanwhile, the Sena president also said his government was in the process of reviewing the economic situation of Maharashtra and the farm loan waiver scheme announced by his government will be rolled out from next month.
He also assured that not a single industry will be allowed to move out of the state.