Skip to main content

Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project was dropped in 2005: PMO found it would need to be subsidized for ever

By Our Representative
There is strong flutter in the top Government of India (GoI)officialdom on viability of the Japan-funded bullet train project, agreed upon by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad. As a reflection of this flutter, Delhi bureaucrats are circulating a Facebook post of an ex-GoI official, which tells the internal story of how the costly was considered not feasible in the past.
The flutter has come close on the heels of a report appearing in a section of the media, quoting a 2016 Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad paper, that the proposed bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will have to ferry 88,000-118,000 passengers per day, or undertake 100 trips daily, for the Railways to keep it financially viable.
The GoI official, Jawed Usmani, said in his 2015 in his Facebook post that due to "an appropriate decision taken by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in the year 2005, India avoided being tricked into buying an over-priced bullet train toy."
"Instead", said Usmani, who is chief information commissioner, the Right to Information watchdog, of Uttar Pradesh, and previously served as the state chief secretary, "Japan signed on the dotted line to provide assistance for development of railway and industrial infrastructure in accordance with India's needs and priorities" -- the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC).
Former senior advisor to the World Bank, Usmani, recalling what exactly happened when he served as joint secretary, PMO, in mid-2000s, said the Indo-Japan MoU on "high speed rail corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad using the Japanese Shinkansen (Bullet train) technology", estimating to cost Rs 98000 crore, proposed to be funded largely by a concessional Japanese loan, was assessed as "not good value for money."
He said, "Japan has been pursuing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project for a long time as it gives them an opportunity to market their over-priced technology and utilize their idle high speed train manufacturing capacity. They had pushed very hard for this project prior to the visit of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to India in April 2005, and they had found surprisingly willing partners in the Railway Board and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)".
"RK Singh then Chairman of the Railway Board, and Rajiv Sikri, Secretary (East), MEA, were enthusiastic supporters of the project. However, the matter required formal clearance of PMO before inclusion in the agenda of the foreign dignitary's visit", Usmani, who in the PMO looked after economic sector issues, and was a key participant in meetings to discuss issue, said.
"RK Singh and Sikri argued strongly in favour of the bullet train, essentially on the ground that India would benefit from transfer of technology. I opposed the concept, arguing that there are many other railway projects of higher priority and that investment of Rs 50,000 crores (the estimated cost in 2005) on the bullet train would be a complete misallocation of scarce resources", he noted.
"The issue was clinched when I asked RK Singh whether he would have chosen to invest Rs 50,000 crore on the bullet train if the Japan loan funds were not available and the money was to be provided from the Railway budget. Surprisingly, he stated that under those circumstances, he would not choose to make the investment", Usmani said.
Referring to Rakesh Mohan, then Finance Secretary, Usmani said, he, too, declared against the bullet train project even if the Japanese provide grant assistance instead of a loan, "because based on international experience, in all likelihood the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train will not meet operational costs and would need to be subsidized forever."
The result was, said Usmani, the Japanese push for the bullet train project did not succeed. The Railways, instead, "identified a much more important infrastructure project -- the Dedicated Freight Corridor Project (DFCP) between Delhi and Mumbai and between Delhi and Howrah, which was posed to the Japanese as a deliverable of PM Koizumi's visit."
The DFCP was clinched, he said, "when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a visit to Japan in October 2008", with the Japanese counterpart Taro Aso pledging that loan to be provided for the realization of the western corridor of the DFCP."As for its eastern corridor, it was later taken up with World Bank funding under a proposal forwarded by the UP government in 2013, approved in principle by Manmohan Singh.

Comments

Seriously, these morons expect us to believe this bullshit...so, after scrapping the idea in 2005, the same government commissioned a pre-feasibility report in 2008??? We know the UPA is headed by idiots, but surely, they are not that big a moron!!!
Unknown said…
Why would ANY country of the world offer us technology if it does not benefit them in anyway? The Shinkansen example can be compared to India's adoption of 4G mobile speed or even 3G
When more than a third of the coubtry doesn't have good Telecom assets!!

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Business back to normal? IIM-A survey says, sales expectations have sharply improved

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management’s Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), which polls a panel of business leaders to find out their perception of slack in economy, including their inflation expectations, year-ahead cost expectations and the factors influencing price changes, such as profit and sales levels, etc., has said that the cost perceptions data indicates signs of moderation in price pressures. Carried out for September, the survey says, the cost pressure of the reporting firms has shifted from “very significant increase (over 6%) to moderate increase (3.1% to 6%).” It adds, “The percentage of firms perceiving over 10% cost increase y-o-y has declined. Over 21% of the firms in September 2022 round of the survey perceive that costs have increased very significantly (over 10%) – down from 26% recorded in August 2022.” Claiming to be a unique survey, in that it goes straight to businesses -- the price setters -- rather than to consumers or household

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

Amit Shah accused of inciting communal passion: Demand to postpone Gujarat polls

Counterview Desk  In an email representation to the Election Commission of India (ECI), Dr EAS Sarma, former secretary to the Government of India, has objected to the statement reported to have been made by Union home minister Amit Shah, who allegedly justified the 2002 Gujarat riots stating that certain sections of people “taught a lesson” to the rioters. Noting that the statement, if correct, “in effect implies those other than the law enforcement authorities had taken law into their hands”, Sarma says, “Shah's statement needs to be viewed by the ECI in conjunction with the reported fact that it was the Union Home Ministry that cleared the release of the eleven rape convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, directly related to the infamous Godhra incidents in 2002, which triggered the shameful sequence of events that shook the nation's conscience.” According to Sarma, if the statement is true, “I am constrained to draw the inevitable inference that it would have already impacted th

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Diminishing returns: Hydro projects contribute less than 10% of India's power generation

Counterview Desk  Pointing out that India’s hydro generation remains around 10% for the last six years, the advocacy group South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has said that power generation from hydropower projects continues to show diminishing returns, as has been the story close to three decades now. Yet, says SANDRP in a note, the Government of India continues to push large hydro by announcing a slew of additional subsidies for hydropower projects, more for political economy reason. In fact, attempts are being made to flog unviable hydropower projects with various kind of manipulations, illegalities and violations, it adds. Text : In last six years, from 2016-17 to 2021-22, India’s large hydropower projects (projects above 25 MW installed capacity) have contributed just around 10% of the total power generation, going as low as 9.68% in 2017-18. In fact, in three of these six years, large hydro contributed less than 10% and recovering only marginally in the rest,