Modi, Abe to lay foundation stone for bullet train project on Thursday

11 September 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe will lay the foundation stone for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, India's first high-speed train, on Thursday.

The Japanese prime minister will arrive in Ahmedabad on Wednesday for the foundation ceremony slated for Thursday.

The project, involving an investment of around Rs1,10,000 crore, is expected to help reduce travel time between the two commercial cities to three hours from 7 hours at present.

Of the Rs1,10,000 crore, Rs88,000 crore, or nearly 85 per cent of the total cost, will come as a soft loan from the Japanese government.

The bullet train will initially have 10 cars and a capacity to accommodate 750 people, which will be increased to 16 cars with a capacity to accommodate 1,200 passengers later.

The completion of the project, which had a deadline of December 2023, may be advanced to August 2022 to coincide the country's 75th Independence Day celebrations.

Gujarat is also setting up a second Japanese Industrial Park as Modi's home state decks up to host PM Shinzo Abe. Modi and Abe will also break ground for a second Japanese industrial park at Sanand besides the one at Mandal (near Suzuki Motor Gujarat's plant).

Abe, who lands in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, will be treated to authentic Japanese and Gujarati food, though a tête-à-tête a la the Indian PM and Chinese President Xi Jinping, might not take place, according to government sources.

The Sabarmati railway station, which is the venue for the ground-breaking ceremony of the Rs98,000-crore Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed rail project, has also undergone a facelift.

Senior government officials said Japan is increasingly becoming importance for Gujarat and India as a strategic economic partner as Japan has led FDI growth in Gujarat in recent years. FDI inflows to the state rose from $2.24 billion in FY16 to $3.36 billion in FY17, up 50 per cent. The growth is almost four times when compared to the 2013-14 levels.

Japanese investments in Gujarat has topped $ 1 billion, which also include Suzuki's Rs3,000-crore investment and Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India's Rs 1,100 crore investments among the big-ticket investments in recent times. The two industrial parks together are expected to draw investment worth Rs25,000 crore.

''JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) is opening a major office in the city which would be on a par with their office in New Delhi to facilitate the projects here,'' an official said.

Japan is also important for India as a strategic deterrent to China as it was one of the few countries which came out in India's support during the Doklam stand-off with China.

Ahmedabad's rising Japanese connection has spawned around eight restaurants which serve Japanese food in and around the city.

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