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

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.