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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

New Delhi: The 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai High-Speed Rail, popularly known as bullet train project, may start its operations in a phased manner and if the land acquisition is not delayed, the national transporter will commission the 325 km Ahmedabad-Vapi section in the first phase.

Giving the details of the project, Railway Board Chairman and CEO VK Yadav said at a virtual press conference on Saturday that the Maharashtra government has "assured" the Railways that the remaining land will be provided for the bullet train project in the next four months.

"Once that is done, we can start work on the entire line and then the bullet train from both the states can be commissioned together," he said, adding that the railways will get the full picture over four months and then decide if the commissioning will be done in phases or at once.

"However, if the Maharashtra land acquisition is delayed, then a 325 km stretch till Vapi will be commissioned. The decision will be taken in four months," Yadav said.

He said that till date, 68 per cent land has been acquired for the project.

According to National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited, which is engaged in construction of the first high-speed corridor, 825 hectares out of 956 hectare have been acquired in Gujarat.

In Maharashtra, 97 hectares out of the 432 hectares of land has been acquired, which is only 22 per cent of the total land required. Seven hectares out of eight hectares land has been acquired in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

The foundation stone of the ambitious first bullet train project costing Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on September 14, 2017. The deadline to complete the project is December 2023.

The bullet trains are expected to run at 350 km per hour, covering the 508-km stretch in about two hours. In comparison, trains take over seven hours to travel the distance at present, whereas flights take about an hour.

PM Modi To Flag Off 100th Kisan Rail On Monday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the 100th "Kisan Rail" from Sangola in Maharashtra to Shalimar in West Bengal on December 28 via video-conferencing, his office said on Saturday.

The multi-commodity train service will carry vegetables such as cauliflower, capsicum, cabbage, drumstick, chilli and onion as well as fruits like grape, orange, pomegranate, banana and custard apple, it added.

Loading and unloading of perishable commodities will be permitted at all stoppages en route with no bar on the size of consignment, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said, adding that the Centre has extended a 50-per cent subsidy on the transportation of fruits and vegetables.

It may be noted that the first Kisan Rail was introduced from Devlali to Danapur on August 7, which was further extended up to Muzaffarpur.

As a result of a good response from farmers, its frequency was increased from a weekly service to three days in a week, the PMO said.

"Kisan Rail has been a game changer in ensuring fast transportation of agriculture produce across the nation. It provides a seamless supply chain of perishable produce," it said.

The launch of the train by Modi comes amid protests by a section of farmers against three farm laws near Delhi's borders.

(With Agency Inputs)

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