5 Months In, Shinde-Fadnavis Push for Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail Project Derailed by Uddhav

Within five months of the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government coming to power in Maharashtra, the bid invitation work for constructing the Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail project on the Maharashtra stretch has been completed, with land acquisition for the project also near complete.

The project had failed to take off in Maharashtra during the Maha Aghadi government rule. The National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) on November 15 invited tenders for the project of constructing 135km of the line stretch from Shilphata in Maharashtra till the Gujarat border and three elevated stations of Thane, Virar and Boisar in Maharashtra. News18 has reviewed a copy of the document.

Before this, on September 23, the NHSRCL had invited tenders for building about 20km of the line in Maharashtra from Mumbai till Shilphata. On September 22, it had invited tenders for building the Mumbai Underground Station at the Bandra-Kurla complex. These three tenders, which include tunnelling works, complete the invitation of bids for the entire work that is to be done in Maharashtra for this big project.

Interestingly, all these tenders have been invited after the Shinde-Fadnavis government came to power in July. “The land acquisition work was stuck in the previous government and hence the tenders were not being invited. Nearly the entire land has now been acquired in Maharashtra. The new Maharashtra government and the Centre are on the same page to fast-track the project,” a top central official told News18.

News18 was the first to report on July 2 that the new Shinde-Fadnavis government had decided to fast-track the project. Till June, nearly 150 hectares of land in Maharashtra had not been acquired out of 298 hectares of land required in Maharashtra for the project. However, within the last four months, the new state government has acquired nearly all of the balance land and handed it over promptly to the NHSRCL.

Work has already begun on the entire stretch of the project in Gujarat but the deadline of the project got pushed back by over three years from 2023 to the end of 2026 due to the ‘uninterested attitude’ of the Uddhav Thackeray government since 2019. This had made Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2021 instruct that the high-speed corridor be operationalised in Gujarat first by 2023, without waiting for Maharashtra.

However, the BJP coming to power in Maharashtra this July with Eknath Shinde as the CM changed the scenario for the project. The Thackeray government had earlier termed the project a “vanity one” and said it was not its priority. In August 2021, the Centre told Parliament that it had no revised deadline for the completion of the project and blamed the inordinate delay on the then government of Maharashtra.

Shinde and Fadnavis in July, on coming to power, made it clear that the high-speed rail project work was being put on the fast-track in Maharashtra. The results are now finally showing.

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