Bullet train project launch to be likely birthday present from Abe to Modi

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is expected to visit India in mid-September and Modi and he will lay the foundation for this India-Japan joint venture in Ahmedabad. 

Kumar Anshuman

The Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train project, one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s big dreams, is likely to be his birthday present this year. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to visit India in September and Modi and he will lay the foundation for this India-Japan joint venture in Ahmedabad, top government sources told ThePrint.

A delegation of the Gujarat government has already visited Japan to work out the programme and a Japanese delegation is expected to visit New Delhi next week to discuss the visit.

The Rs. 1 lakh-crore project is being funded by Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA), which is offering loans for 81 per cent of the project cost. The Gujarat and Maharashtra governments will also part fund the project.

The date of Abe’s visit has not been finalised yet but sources said that it will likely be between 14 and 17 September. Incidentally, 17 September happens to be the birthday of Modi and chances are that the foundation ceremony would take place on that day.

The Modi-Abe bonhomie has been quite on display since Modi visited Japan in 2014. The two leaders met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month and it was announced that Abe would visit India, although no dates were confirmed.

Work is expected to start soon on the 500-km rail link between the two state capitals and it is scheduled to be completed by 2023. JICA had agreed to help India in planning and building its first high-speed train corridor as discussed during the India-Japan summit meeting in December 2015.

The Indian government has constituted a new agency called the High Speed Rail Corporation of India Limited (HSRC), a special purpose vehicle under the Ministry of Railways, to execute high speed rail networks. Besides Mumbai-Ahmedabad, HSRC is looking at developing several other high-speed corridors for which feasibility studies are being done.

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