Maharashtra minister Jayant Patil on Tuesday said the state government was trying to ascertain if projects like bullet train could be deferred in view the “Rs 4.71 lakh crore debt” on the state.
Patil’s comments came two days after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered a review of all on-going development projects in the state, including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train.
“The state’s debt is Rs 4.71 lakh crore. The debt for ongoing projects is Rs 2 lakh crore. We are reviewing which projects are important for the state’s development and whether projects like bullet train can be taken up at a later stage,” Patil told a television channel.
“We have called a meeting to look into the viability of the project and how much money will the state government need to repay,” he said.
The bullet train project has faced stiff opposition from farmers and tribals whose lands are to be acquired. Patil also said that people were “not happy” with the previous government’s loan waiver scheme.
“We are working on how to provide relief to farmers affected by unseasonal rains and floods,” he added. Thackeray on Sunday said the state government, which has a debt of nearly Rs 5 lakh crore, is firm on giving unconditional loan waivers to farmers.
The introduction of the bullet train is expected to mark the country’s shift to an era of high-speed trains capable of hitting a speed of up to 350 km per hour. Of the 508.17-km-long bullet train corridor, 155.76 km will be in Maharashtra, 348.04 km in Gujarat and 4.3 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
The Narendra Modi government has set the deadline of completing the project by August 15, 2022, when India marks 75 years of Independence.