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Bullet Train or Bullet for the Environment?

Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant 10 Jul 2018

A simple calculation proves that the Bullet Train Project makes neither economic sense nor puts on priority the needs of the pressing multi-modal public transport. It’s only a sign of brute force and violence.


Modi Bullet Train 

Few bullet questions for the Modi Government:
 
Why is MoEF&CC absent while a foreign government agency is participating in Environmental Consultation?
 
Ongoing Consultation accepts the need for environmental concerns. Then, why the Environment Laws of India and MoEF&CC have no role in the process?
 
Are the MoEF&CC and the Environment Laws of the Land mortgaged to the JICA?
 
We are supporters of the ‘Public Train Transport System.’ Our objection to the ‘Bullet Train’ project is not an objection against ‘Train’ but we are against the ‘Bullet.’
 
The ‘Bullet’ is targeting fertile lands, environment, water sources, livelihood, biodiversity, economics, sensible priorities for the public transportation, environment laws of the land and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. More importantly, it targets democratic processes and common sense for the needs of contemporary and emerging new India.
 
The ‘Feasibility Report’ for Mumbai – Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) of Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) and Ministry of Railways, Government of India, is more about ‘Justifying the Project’ rather than seriously considering its thorough and honest social and environment impact assessments as well as viability and need for the project.
 
As per their own report, the ‘Bullet’ is going to pass through the reserved forest, mangroves and around 80,000 trees will be felled and it is going to affect the water sources and biodiversity of the entire corridor and its context.
 
Despite all this, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) of the Government of India is not involved in the project's environmental and social impacts assessment proceedings.
 
The representatives of a foreign government body, in this case, JICA - Japan International Cooperation Agency, with which Modi government signed MoU for bullet train project, are found sitting in the district - town level public environment consultations with local Indian authorities. This is unprecedented, especially when the MoEF&CC, which should be legally part of this process, is instead completely missing from the consultations on the project’s proceedings.
 
Why the MoEF&CC is absent and a foreign government agency is participating in Environment Consultation? The ongoing Environment Consultation accepts the need for environmental concerns then why the Environment Laws of India and the MoEF&CC have no role in the process. Are the MoEF&CC and the Environment Laws of the Land mortgaged to the JICA?
 
Presently, the Indian Rail Network is stretched along 67,368 Kilometres, with more than 13,000 passenger trains and 9,200 freight trains. Daily 15,561,613 passengers use the services. Between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, presently 76 trains run daily and average 400,000 passengers use it on daily basis.
 
According to Government of India’s study, Rs. 560,596 crores are required to be spent across ten years for modernization of the rail network, i.e. approximately Rs. 9 crores to modernize each km of the rail network. While the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train will cost Rs. 212 crores per km. It is not clear if the bullet train will, in any make, augment indigenous public transport technology, nor is it clear if it will, in any way, benefit Indian industry or common people.
 
It took 50 years for the first bullet train in Japan to mark a break-even. The cost will only increase the per capita debt burden and it will also make it difficult for the Indian Railways to manage its priorities and economics.
 
Presently, the Indian Government is promoting waterways and air travel. It is establishing airports in two-tier towns. All major cities including Ahmedabad and Mumbai are now well connected through the air network. In addition to air travel, there are both national highways and express highways between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. In addition, work is in progress for Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC). Why then is the Bullet Train given such a priority and made out to be a prestigious proposition? There are other ways to benefit from Japan-India friendship and socio-economic cooperation.
 
A simple calculation proves that the Bullet Train Project makes neither economic sense nor puts on priority the needs of the pressing multi-modal public transport. It doesn’t think of last mile connectivity and appropriate and complementary land use planning, that will benefit all in the emerging new India. 
 
In light of all the above, it is apparent that a sincere rethink of the project, with authentic and accountable stakeholders’ participation, is urgently needed.
 
Many more such questions need answers from the Modi Government. Let the Modi Government first clarify the questions raised here before taking any further action for the implementation of the ‘Bullet’.
 
The authors are Environment Activists from Gujarat.
 
Read Also -
The Bullet Train as Moksha, the latest Modi Gimmick

Bullet Train or Bullet for the Environment?

A simple calculation proves that the Bullet Train Project makes neither economic sense nor puts on priority the needs of the pressing multi-modal public transport. It’s only a sign of brute force and violence.


Modi Bullet Train 

Few bullet questions for the Modi Government:
 
Why is MoEF&CC absent while a foreign government agency is participating in Environmental Consultation?
 
Ongoing Consultation accepts the need for environmental concerns. Then, why the Environment Laws of India and MoEF&CC have no role in the process?
 
Are the MoEF&CC and the Environment Laws of the Land mortgaged to the JICA?
 
We are supporters of the ‘Public Train Transport System.’ Our objection to the ‘Bullet Train’ project is not an objection against ‘Train’ but we are against the ‘Bullet.’
 
The ‘Bullet’ is targeting fertile lands, environment, water sources, livelihood, biodiversity, economics, sensible priorities for the public transportation, environment laws of the land and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. More importantly, it targets democratic processes and common sense for the needs of contemporary and emerging new India.
 
The ‘Feasibility Report’ for Mumbai – Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) of Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) and Ministry of Railways, Government of India, is more about ‘Justifying the Project’ rather than seriously considering its thorough and honest social and environment impact assessments as well as viability and need for the project.
 
As per their own report, the ‘Bullet’ is going to pass through the reserved forest, mangroves and around 80,000 trees will be felled and it is going to affect the water sources and biodiversity of the entire corridor and its context.
 
Despite all this, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) of the Government of India is not involved in the project's environmental and social impacts assessment proceedings.
 
The representatives of a foreign government body, in this case, JICA - Japan International Cooperation Agency, with which Modi government signed MoU for bullet train project, are found sitting in the district - town level public environment consultations with local Indian authorities. This is unprecedented, especially when the MoEF&CC, which should be legally part of this process, is instead completely missing from the consultations on the project’s proceedings.
 
Why the MoEF&CC is absent and a foreign government agency is participating in Environment Consultation? The ongoing Environment Consultation accepts the need for environmental concerns then why the Environment Laws of India and the MoEF&CC have no role in the process. Are the MoEF&CC and the Environment Laws of the Land mortgaged to the JICA?
 
Presently, the Indian Rail Network is stretched along 67,368 Kilometres, with more than 13,000 passenger trains and 9,200 freight trains. Daily 15,561,613 passengers use the services. Between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, presently 76 trains run daily and average 400,000 passengers use it on daily basis.
 
According to Government of India’s study, Rs. 560,596 crores are required to be spent across ten years for modernization of the rail network, i.e. approximately Rs. 9 crores to modernize each km of the rail network. While the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train will cost Rs. 212 crores per km. It is not clear if the bullet train will, in any make, augment indigenous public transport technology, nor is it clear if it will, in any way, benefit Indian industry or common people.
 
It took 50 years for the first bullet train in Japan to mark a break-even. The cost will only increase the per capita debt burden and it will also make it difficult for the Indian Railways to manage its priorities and economics.
 
Presently, the Indian Government is promoting waterways and air travel. It is establishing airports in two-tier towns. All major cities including Ahmedabad and Mumbai are now well connected through the air network. In addition to air travel, there are both national highways and express highways between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. In addition, work is in progress for Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC). Why then is the Bullet Train given such a priority and made out to be a prestigious proposition? There are other ways to benefit from Japan-India friendship and socio-economic cooperation.
 
A simple calculation proves that the Bullet Train Project makes neither economic sense nor puts on priority the needs of the pressing multi-modal public transport. It doesn’t think of last mile connectivity and appropriate and complementary land use planning, that will benefit all in the emerging new India. 
 
In light of all the above, it is apparent that a sincere rethink of the project, with authentic and accountable stakeholders’ participation, is urgently needed.
 
Many more such questions need answers from the Modi Government. Let the Modi Government first clarify the questions raised here before taking any further action for the implementation of the ‘Bullet’.
 
The authors are Environment Activists from Gujarat.
 
Read Also -
The Bullet Train as Moksha, the latest Modi Gimmick

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