Calling the Narendra Modi government's ambitious bullet train project, an agenda for Gujarat elections, BJP's ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena has raised questions over the project. The Shiv Sena has alleged that the train serves no purpose except to appeal to Gujarati businessmen.
"Shiv Sena is not an anti-development party but do we need a bullet train? Where are the government's priorities? Neither traders nor businessmen, not the common people have asked for the bullet train. What is the purpose of this Rs 1,08,000 crore project? It will only serve one section- Gujarati businessman- and its hidden agenda is the upcoming Gujarat elections," said Manisha Khandye, Spokesperson for the Shiv Sena. She added that the project was a result of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's self-centered nature to add a feather to his cap.
Who does the Bullet train help?
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) : State-run BHEL is eyeing a major role in the high-speed rail project. The project, if it works in BHEL's favour, can revive the company's fortunes. BHEL is looking to grab the opportunity to manufacture coaches and take up civil construction work to laying down rail links.
Cement manufacturers: The high-speed train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is expected to be completed by 2022. The estimated quantity of concrete in various components of the structure, which includes concrete bridges, piers, foundation, underground station and tunnels is about 120 lakh cubic meter (12 million m3). Such huge requirement of concrete translates into the cement requirement of about 55 lakh metric tonne. This entire requirement is expected to be consumed in a period of about three years, thus generating a demand of about 2 million tonne of cement annually during the construction phase of the project.
Steel companies: The estimated quantity of steel to be consumed during the construction of the project is about 15 lakh metric tonne, thus generating an annual demand of about 5 lakh tonne per year during the construction phase of the project.
Traders/ production/ employment: The government has claimed that the bullet train will be most beneficial to traders in two cities to enhance their businesses and push for Make in India manufacturing. The project itself, according to the government's estimate, is likely to generate about 16,000 indirect employment opportunities and 20,000 direct employment opportunities. The Shiv Sena is however, unimpressed.
Shiv Sena's allegations
The party in its mouthpiece- Saamana- has lashed out at Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed train project questioning its need. "As we see it, farm loans, education, health care and ensuring basic necessities of life for people from the lowest circles of the society must be the government's priority but it is clearly misplaced," Manisha Khandye added.
The Shiv Sena alleged that the notion about the project creating employment was false. "Japan will bring everything required, right from the machinery to labourers from there for the project." an editorial in the party mouthpiece said. Out of the Rs 1,08,000 crore cost of the project, at least Rs 30,000 crore would have to be shelled out by the Maharashtra government. "Shouldn't farmer loan waiver be the government's priority considering the number of farmer suicides," the party's spokesperson asked. The party termed the bullet train "a rich man's dream and not the common man's".