Skip to main content

Bullet train project is financially unviable: Standing Committee on Railways in 2014-15 report

By Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant*
Farmers, families, villagers, and many others rightfully protest land acquisition for and raise some valid questions about the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project. Interestingly, earlier, the Indian government’s committee too had raised some questions and deemed the project financially unviable. In simple terms, it is a very costly and a loss-making proposition. The committees instead stated that the funds being earmarked for this "unviable" project should be used judiciously for long pending railway projects .
Dinesh Trivedi, the chairperson, Standing Committee on Railways (2014-15), of Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) of 16th Lok Sabha, on December 17, 2014 clearly states in the report on high speed trains:
“The Committee learns that the Railways have proposed to introduce bullet train on the already identified Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector... The Ministry has justified this project even though it is financially unviable stating that as compared to other big railway projects, bullet train project has additional unique feature contributing to improved economic rate of return in terms of value of time saved of passengers, environmental benefits, appreciation in real estate value and residual value of infrastructure, besides enhancing the country’s prestige internationally.
“The committee is not fully convinced with the above justifications given by the Ministry. The Committee feel that if the amount equivalent to that proposed to expanded for bullet train is used for execution of the long pending railway projects, the benefits to the general public would be much more. The Committee, therefore, desire that before going ahead with the bullet train project, the Ministry should conduct a coast benefit analysis for the project vis-à-vis other pending railway projects so that the scarce resource of the Railways are utilized optimally and judiciously.

Incidentally, this very report, for reasons best known to them, also contradicts itself: 
“However, the proposal for introduction of the high-speed train on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector is laudable.”
It is apparent that the government chose to focus on only some of the positive points of the report and not on its drawbacks that outweigh the assumed benefits. Who demanded the bullet train in first place? What are the government compulsions to continue to opt for and insist on an unviable project? The Indian citizen and taxpayer deserve immediate and complete clarification.
The statements of the committee for Bullet Train Project – “…though it is financially unviable… the Committee feel that if the amount equivalent to that proposed to expanded for bullet train is used for execution of the long pending railway projects, the benefits to the general public would be much more… the scarce resource of the Railways are utilized optimally and judiciously” – need full explanations and disclosure from the Government of India.
The people have a right to know the reasons why the government undermines the clearly spelt out observation of a committee it set up. Does the taxpayer assume that this all party committee were either "browbeaten" or "convinced" to pitch in a few positive points to contradict its own observations?
The Bullet Train Project, in its very conception, ignores the crucial issues like financial viability and prudence, judicious prioritising of India's resources, and democratic consensus for a public project.
Are we suffering from a misplaced inferiority complex, and is that why the Government wants to show off to the world that we do have a Bullet Train? Does the Bullet Train represent the symbol of ideal Development? What type of Development and accompanying false sense of pride or ego does it satisfy? At what and whose cost? For whom?
If this project satisfies sense of pride or ego, why not nurture it with more positive international examples that adapt better technological and scientific advances and also promote regenerative models of development?
It is time that we all raise pertinent questions and work towards wiser and viable alternatives for public transportation and all kinds of so-called “development” projects in India.
---
*Environmental activists, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara, Gujarat

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.