Skip to main content

Bullet train "not feasible": To cost whopping Rs 212 crore per km; Indian railways modernization Rs 9 crore per km

By Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant*
Let us make this clear atthe very outset: We are supporters of the public train transport system. Our objection to the Bullet Train project is not an objection against 'train' but we are against the bullet, which is symbol of violence.
The Bullet Train's bullet is targeting fertile lands, environment, water sources, livelihood, biodiversity, economics, sensible priorities for the public transportation, environment laws of land, and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
More importantly, it targets democratic processes and common sense for the needs of contemporary and emerging New India.
The Feasibility Report for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) of the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) and the Ministry of Railways, Government of India, is more about justifying the project rather than seriously considering its thorough and honest social and environment impact assessments as well as viability and need for the project. Even as per their own report, the bullet is going to pass through reserved forests, mangroves and around 80,000 trees will be felled, and it is going to adversely affect the water sources and biodiversity of the entire corridor and its context.
Despite all this, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) of the Government of India is not involved in the project's environmental and social impacts assessment proceedings.
The representatives of the foreign government body, in this case JICA -- with which Modi government signed MoU for the Bullet Train project -- are found sitting in district and town level public environment consultations with local Indian authorities. This is unprecedented, especially when the MoEFCC, which should be legally part of this process, is instead completely missing from the consultations the projects proceedings.
Why is the MoEFCC absent and a foreign government agency is participating in environment consultation? If the ongoing environmental consultation accepts the need for environmental concerns, then why have the environmental laws of India and the MoEFCC have no role in the process? Have the MoEFCC and the environmental laws of the land been mortgaged to the JICA?
Presently, the Indian rail network is stretched along 67,368 Kilometres, with more than 13,000 passenger trains and 9,200 freight trains. Daily 15,561,613 passengers use the services. Between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, presently, 76 trains run daily and average 400,000 passengers use it on daily basis. 
According to the Government of India's study, Rs. 5,60,596 crore are required to be spent across ten years for the modernization of rail network, i.e. approximately Rs 9 crore to modernize each km of rail network. On the other hand, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train will cost Rs 212 crore per km.
It is not clear that the bullet train will, in any make, augment indigenous public transport technology, nor that it will in any way benefit the Indian industry or common people. It took 50 years for the first bullet train in Japan to mark a breakeven. The cost will only increase the per capita debt burden, and it will also make it difficult for the Indian Railways to manage its priorities and economics.
Presently, the Indian government is promoting waterways and air travel. It is establishing airports in two tier towns. All major cities including, Ahmedabad and Mumbai, are now well connected with air network. In addition to air travel, there are both national highways and express highways between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. In addition, work is in progress for the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC). Why then is the Bullet Train given such a priority and made out to be a prestigious proposition? There are other ways to benefit from Japan-India friendship and socio-economic cooperation.
A simple calculation proves that the Bullet Train project makes neither economic sense nor puts on priority the pressing multi-modal public transport needs, with last mile connectivity and appropriate and complementary land use planning that will benefit all, in the emerging New India.
In light of all the above, it is apparent that a sincere rethink of the project, with authentic and accountable stakeholders participation, is urgently needed.
Many more such questions need answers from the Modi Government. Let the Modi government first clarify the questions raised here before taking any further action for the implementation of the bullet.
---
*Environment activists, Gujarat

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

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.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.