Maharashtra Government formed an expert committee today to look into the environmental issues related to the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced formation of the panel at a Cabinet meeting on demand from Shiv Sena Ministers.
Transport Minister Diwakar Raote of Shiv Sena, meanwhile, said the route of the bullet train in Maharashtra will be completely underground and will have three stations (out of total 12).
The Cabinet discussed two options about the beginning station – Bandra-Kurla Complex or Kurla. The bullet train issue was not on the Cabinet’s agenda but was taken up at the last minute, an official said.
“Schedule for elections to ten municipal corporations, including Mumbai, is expected to be announced on January 5 or 6 after which code of conduct will come into force (thus preventing any major announcement).
“Hence, the Cabinet note about bullet train was brought before the meeting at eleventh hour,” the official from Chief Minister’s Office said, requesting anonymity.
Raote said since the bullet train issue was related to his department, the file containing the note was brought to him before the meeting.
“I signed the note before the meeting,” said Raote.
“As National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued an interim stay on one of the routes of Metro train in Pune passing through Mula-Mutha riverbed, it may happen in case of bullet train as well,” the Minister said.
“Hence, we (Sena Ministers) told the Chief Minister that the project should be scrutinised from the environmental angle before we go ahead,” Raote maintained.
Fadnavis agreed with their suggestion and announced formation of the expert committee, he said, adding the names of panel members and other details will be announced soon.
“BKC (or Kurla), Thane and Talasari will be three stations of the bullet train corridor in Maharashtra and the remaining nine will be in Gujarat.
“The corridor will be around 40 feet deep and the train will run at a speed of 332 km/hr, while the ticket will be 1.5 per cent higher than the then prevailing first class fare for the same route,” said Raote.
Each train will have commuter carriage capacity of 900 to 1,200 and make 33 trips in a day between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, covering the 508km distance between the two cities in 2 hours and 50 minutes, he said.
The project will be executed by a Special Purpose Vehicle in which Maharashtra and Gujarat will have 25 per cent equity each and the rest will be with Railways.