Maha Govt diverting funds from Karad-Chiplun Railway Line project to Bullet Train: allege Prithviraj Chavan

MUMBAI: Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan allege that the state government is in the process of diverting the funds of the proposed Karad-Chiplun railway line project to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.

“Shapoorji Pallonji Co Pvt Ltd, which had inked a memorandum of understanding with Konkan Railway Corporation Limited in August 2016, has now withdrawn from the (Karad- Chiplun railway line) project. The company was supposed to construct the new train line between Karad and Chiplun at a cost of Rs 3,195 crore,” Chavan said.

“No decision was taken since the MoU was signed and the company had to wait for almost a year. Now, it has pulled out. I suspect it is being done to divert the funds for bullet train,” the senior Congress leader alleged.

The ambitious Rs 1,10,000 crore bullet train project was launched by prime minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad last month. A loan of Rs 88,000 crore will be taken from Japan for the project. The funds will be given at an interest of 0.1 percent per annum by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This loan has to be repaid to Japan in 50 years, with 15 years grace period.

Chavan, however, said that land acquisition costs are not considered in these figures. “The state government will have to spend for it (land acquisition) from its treasury.

Hence, the land acquisition costs in the Karad-Chiplun railway line project are going to be diverted to the bullet train project,” Chavan, who represents Karad South assembly constituency, alleged.

“Even if the interest rate is just 0.1 percent, I think we will have to repay it in the Japanese currency yen and the appreciation rate of yen is three per cent every year.

In the last decade, the Japanese yen has appreciated over 60 percent. So imagine, how much we will have to repay to the Japanese partner after 15 years,” he added. He also raised question marks over the sharing of expenses for the bullet train project. “When only 24 percent length of the bullet train route passes through Maharashtra, why should we bear equal share with Gujarat? It means we are paying more by cancelling the already sanctioned projects in the state,” he said.

The Congress veteran said, the bullet train project was announced just ahead of the Gujarat elections, although its signing of MoU had taken place much earlier. “On the other hand, metro projects for Pune and Nagpur were signed at the same time, but (Union minister) Nitin Gadkari, after swearing in immediately brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nagpur and laid the foundation of the work. Today, it has significantly progressed,” he said. Chavan also slammmed the BJP-led state government over its decision to implement 30 percent cuts on development works across the ministries.

Though the government is saying it is 30 percent, in reality it will be 50 percent as this government has miserably failed on managing its finances, he said. “This government has made several false and tall claims of improving the financial condition of the state. When the BJP-led dispensation came to power, the total loan on the state government was Rs two lakh crore, which has jumped to Rs four lakh crore. Who is misleading the people of the state,” Chavan asked.