The Indian Government signed an agreement on Friday, 28 September, with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which has agreed to provide an Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan of around Rs 5,500 crore (89,547 million Japanese Yen) as Tranche 1 for the the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project, reported ANI.
Earlier, the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) had denied media reports claiming that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has stopped funding for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Railway – also known as the bullet train corridor between the cities.
JICA had also dismissed reports of the funding freeze, clarifying that they “have not stopped any funds for this project”.
On 22 September, The New Indian Express had reported that the Centre’s ambitious project was “now saddled with a fund crunch”. The report stated that JICA had refused to release further instalments for it because of farmers’ protest against the project.
“JICA had agreed to provide nearly 80,000 crore for the High Speed Rail Project, the cost of which was estimated at 1 lakh crore, but so far, only 125 crore has been released,” the report said.
However, NHSRCL, the Centre’s nodal agency for the execution of the project, said the report was not based on facts.
"In fact, the GoI and JICA have already signed a loan agreement of about 10 billion yen and no payment is pending from JICA as on date," NHSRCL said in a statement, as reported by Business Today.
The statement further said the agency was committed towards the interests of the affected farmers, and added that all necessary steps with regard to submission of various reports ie social impact assessment, environment impact assessment and indigenous people plan had already been taken by the Indian side and the reports had already been submitted to JICA.
JICA corroborated the claim. In an email response to Scroll on Wednesday, Vini Sharma from JICA’s India public relations team clarified that they had “not stopped any funds for this project”.
The report quoted Sharma as stating that JICA and the Indian government had signed a loan agreement in September 2017 for 10.4 billion Japanese yen (approximately Rs 673 crore), to be utilised for the construction of a “training institute” for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail.
However, Sharma said “the loan agreement for the construction of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail itself has not yet been signed”.
In September last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe had launched the ambitious project entailing a total cost of around Rs 1.10 lakh crore.
Japan is extending a loan of Rs 88,000 crore for the project at a minimal interest of 0.1 percent.
The country’s first bullet train will run at a maximum speed of 350 km per hour, covering the stretch in under three hours.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI.)