Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray was sworn-in as Maharashtra Chief Minister on November 28. (Photo Credit: PTI File Photo)
With latest announcement, looks like Maharashtra’s new Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is on a collision course with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In an announcement that may alter the state-Centre equation, Thackeray ordered ‘a review of all on-going development projects in the state’ These include the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious, flagship programme. However, Thackeray made it clear that the project has not been put on hold. "This government is of the common man. Like you asked now, yes, we will review the bullet train (project). Have I stayed the bullet train project like Aarey car shed? No, I haven't," he told reporters.
The review of the bullet train project was one of the key features of the common minimum programme drawn by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance. While making the announcement, Thackeray highlighted the fact that the Maharashtra government was under debt of Rs 5 lakh crore. The priorities of the previous BJP-led government in the state - in which his party was a constituent - were not "misplaced", he said and added that there would be no vendetta politics.
There was strong buzz that the bullet train project will be scrapped in case the NCP-Shiv Sena-Congress alliance comes to power. News Nation had reported that the coalition government is likely to withhold Maharashtra's share of expenditure to the Rs 1 lakh crore project.
The proposed bullet train will run approximately 508 km between Mumbai and Ahmedabad at a top speed of 320 kmph. It will make 70 trips per day between Mumbai and Ahmedabad at an interval of 20 minutes and each rake will have 10 coaches. The deadline for the project is August 15, 2022.
The project has faced protests in Maharashtra’s Palghar district where land is to be acquired from the villagers. The villagers in Palghar are demanding the authorities to give them in writing that they will be provided with basic amenities in return to their nod to the bullet train project.
About 110 km of the 508 km train corridor passes through Palghar. The project requires an estimated 300 hectares across 73 villages, affecting about 3,000 people, in the stretch.
Land acquisition for the ambitious $17 billion bullet train project is being severely opposed by tribals and fruit growers in Palghar district.