Thackeray trains guns on Bullet Train project

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Mumbai (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has said the state government will "review" the Rs 1.10 lakh crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project, considered as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream offering to the nation.

The Sunday move came barely a couple of days after he stopped work on another pet project of the former Bharatiya Janata Party government, the proposed car-shed for the Mumbai Metro 3 line in the Aarey Colony.

"We shall not work in a vindictive style. We will review the Bullet Train project, just as we have not stayed the Mumbai Metro Project," Thackeray asserted.

The Bullet Train, coming up at a cost of around Rs 1.10 lakh crore is being financed 81 percent on a 50-year soft loan of 0.1 per cent by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The Nationalist High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) is the executing agency for the project in which Maharashtra and Gujarat will fund Rs 5,000 crore in equity with the center's share of Rs 10,000 crore.

Presently, the project is in the land acquisition stage, with opposition in parts of Palghar in the state, with the project slated to be completed by 2023.

Thackeray also said that the government will come out with a White Paper on the state's economic status soon after it emerged that there is a debt burden of around Rs. Five lakh-crore.

"We have sought updates on all ongoing developmental works, costs, obstacles and the deadlines before we decide on what needs to be prioritized and whether those projects being implemented on priority are really needed," Thackeray said.

The Chief Minister said that the state contributes 40-45 per cent of total tax revenues to the national exchequer.

"However, if we can get a waiver on this for a couple of years, Maharashtra's entire debt burden could be wiped off. We expect the Centre's help in these critical times," Thackeray said.

Urging the state opposition parties not to play political games, he said he would meet the PM and expressed hope that even Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis would use his good offices in the matter for the state.

He reiterated that his government's priorities are different from the previous regime and it was all for development without damaging the environment.

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