Is Bullet Train Required in India?
A country with 38% of its children malnourished, with almost 30% of its population below the poverty line, gets its first bullet train. – A future headline.
It would be a great parody if the government of the country turns its head from one big distressed section of the society and rather focuses on something that would help it pose like an upcoming power in the world.
Recently, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe inaugurated the 508km long bullet train, many in the country have only one question to ask- Is it required?
“It is free,” says the prime minister in context of the financing of the project as Japan would be financing 88,000 crores of the 1.1 lakh crores cost as a 50-year loan at an annual interest of 0.1%.
India’s current extensive rail network runs 12,000 trains a day. The fastest train being the Bhopal Shatabdi from New Delhi that runs at the speed of 150 kmph but only till Agra. Well, then why not upgrade the existing system first?
Recently, Mumbai was struck by a tragedy due to a stampede at Elphinstone Railway station that killed 23, due to overcrowding because of the rains, and rumoured collapse of the bridge. The construction of a new overbridge has been a long-standing demand, but no action has been taken in this regard. Are we living in a country that awaits mishaps to take appropriate measures?
In a decade when as many as 1,394 train accidents have been reported, with 51% of them being due to derailments (the highest being in the current year), the country’s rail network demands the attention of the government. At such a time, is shifting focus at such a big project required?
For a country with almost 30% of its population below the poverty line, with just 74.04% percent of its population literate, a high-speed rail project which costs almost the double of its health budget, would be knowingly ignoring the needs of the deprived section and think of the comforts of the elite.