Can India afford bullet train?
The government’s ambitious project, bullet train, has kicked up a row. At a time when a majority of Indian population lives below the poverty line and deaths by malnutrition is plenty; when farmers commit suicide in alarming numbers; when the national literacy rate has not yet reached 100 per cent and when the country is plagued by innumerable problems—the dearth of food and safe drinking water, unavailability of basic education for children and appalling health care system, how can ordinary citizens be expected to avail bullet train services? It’s far from feasible.
Bullet trains will always be very expensive; only rich people can afford the luxury of travelling by such trains.
Instead, the Indian Railways must undergo a radical overhaul. Look at the conditions of some express or mail trains. The interior looks shabby and worn-out and there’s no maintenance at all. Stench comes out from toilets which can hardly be used after some hours of travelling.
The railways should try to earn profits from freight charges instead of raising fare which is well beyond the reach of poor people.
Moreover, it will be a bad idea to take loans from Japan. Loans are burdens of the State and ordinary tax payers will be made to pay. The current dispensation should have discussed the feasibility of the project, its scope and its long-term effects with the state governments in keeping with the tenets of our democracy.