European ri­vals of Shinkansen try­ing to un­der­mine In­dia’s bul­let train project

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

European ri­vals, who did not suc­ceed in the bid­ding for In­dia’s am­bi­tious bul­let train project, are cast­ing as­per­sions about the Ja­panese Shinkansen tech­nol­ogy. Work for the first such project in In­dia, con­nect­ing Ahmed­abad with Mum­bai, got off in the pres­ence of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and his Ja­panese coun­ter­part Shinzo Abe this week. The es­ti­mated cost of the project is Rs 1.08 lakh crore. Rail­way Min­istry sources said there is a con­certed ef­fort by vested in­ter­ests to un­der­mine the project by cast­ing doubts on it. “These forces are out to prove that In­dia is not ready to run a bul­let train when its nor­mal train run­ning op­er­a­tions is un­der ques­tion. They are cit­ing the re­cent in­ci­dents of train de­rail­ment to prove their point,” said sources.“Sim­i­lar ques­tions were raised when Maruti Suzuki came to In­dia three decades ago. In the last four­five decades, we did not up­grade our rail­way in­fra­struc­ture. We con­tin­ued to run our trains with old tech­nol­ogy. As a re­sult, In­dia could not keep up with the world. This is an op­por­tu­nity to shift to modern tech­nol­ogy. The bul­let train will bring with it a new era in the rail­ways and In­dia will be a mem­ber of the pres­ti­gious league of coun­tries hav­ing high speed trains,” said an of­fi­cial.

Ac­cord­ing to these sources, what prompted the Min­istry of Rail­ways to award the work of the Mum­baiAhmed­abad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) to Shinkansen tech­nol­ogy was its zero ac­ci­dent his­tory and the loan which is com­ing al­most for “free”. “There were pro­pos­als from many coun­tries, mostly European. How­ever, we opted for Ja­panese tech­nol­ogy as it was com­ing al­most free of cost and with such a favourable fund­ing. Those coun­tries which could not bag this project are now try­ing to cre­ate doubts over it. But the govern­ment is de­ter­mined to do it. Though the project is sup­posed to be com­pleted by De­cem­ber 2023, we would like it to be com­pleted by 15 Au­gust 2022,” the of­fi­cial said. As a part of the co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment be­tween In­dia and Ja­pan, Ja­pan is pro­vid­ing a soft loan of about Rs 88,000 crore at an in­ter­est of 0.1 %. Re­pay­ment of the loan will be­gin af­ter 15 years of re­ceiv­ing the loan, which makes it prac­ti­cally free, since the loan in­ter­est works out to be about Rs 7-8 crore per month. They said this is the first time in In­dia that an in­fra­struc­ture project is be­ing funded un­der such favourable terms. The re­pay­ment pe­riod is 50 years, with a grace pe­riod of 15 years. Gen­er­ally, any such loan comes with an in­ter­est rate of 5-7 % with a re­pay­ment pe­riod of 25-35 years. In­dia is get­ting the loan at al­most zero cost, as more that 80% of the project cost is be­ing funded by the Ja­pan govern­ment. What also prompted In­dia to go for the Ja­panese tech­nol­ogy is that it was get­ting the cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy in to­tal­ity. “The Shi­naknsen tech­nol­ogy is known for its re­li­a­bil­ity and safety and is proven for more than 50 years. The train de­lay record of Shinkansen is less than a minute, with zero fa­tal­ity. There has not been a sin­gle ac­ci­dent in the last 50 years,” sources added.


A man dec­o­rates an earthen pitcher used dur­ing Garba in­side a work­shop ahead of Navra­tri, a fes­ti­val dur­ing which devo­tees wor­ship God­dess Durga, in Ahmed­abad, on Saturday.

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