If Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “world and visionary leader”, Modi referred Abe as his “dear friend”.
This was just an indication of how good the relations are between India and Japan and, how much these would strengthen in future. The way both the leaders spoke at the ground breaking ceremony for the multi-crore high-speed bullet train project on Thursday between Ahmedabad and Mumbai reflected that Japan's assistance to India for bullet trains would continue.
The first rail link is to cost Rs. 1.10 lakh crore and Japan will give 81 per cent of the amount at an interest rate of 0.1 per cent to be repaid over a period of 50 years.
Beginning his speech with a Namaskar in Hindi, Abe said that 100 engineers from Japan were already in India. He went on to add that similar trains would run in entire country. Referring to the high-speed bullet trains in Japan, Abe said that ever since they started there has not been a single accident and that Japan would help India in all aspects, including safety measures in trains.
The relationship between India and Japan, according to him, were just not bilateral but over the years a world level strategic and global partnership had developed. Abe said that if “Ja” of Japan and “I” of India were joined it would make “Jai” (victory) and that Japan and India would do everything to make that possible.
Eyeing the upcoming assembly elections in Gujarat, Modi used the platform for listing out the achievements of the NDA. He said that the bullet train would not only bring in speed but will also bring development and more jobs.
Though the deadline for the 508 kilometer long project is 2023, it is expected that the project will be over by August 2022. It will reduce the travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai from seven hours to little over two hours.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that this was not just the ground breaking ceremony for the bullet train but also foundation for the “New India” that Modi has envisaged. Like Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, too, used the opportunity for political talk. Rupani said that when Modi spoke of 24 hour power supply to the villages, people had laughed but it was Modi who set the pace of development.