Better to have bio-toilets than bullet trains, says Jairam Ramesh
Congress leader and former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has criticized the first bullet train project of the Narendra Modi government saying, "better to have bio-toilet trains than bullet trains". The bullet train is not for India, except for some prestige or psychological reasons of us to having them.
Though, Ramesh has not said anything on the Rail Budget in public, he expressed his views on his official blog saying, "I simply cannot understand this obsession that Narendra Modi and his colleagues have with bullet trains. It's better to have bio-toilet trains than bullet trains, given that the Indian Railway is probably the largest open sewer in the world, with its daily passenger traffic of over 2 crore."
A few days ago, Ramesh had also accused the NDA government of turning the programme to clean Ganga as a "Hindutva project" by attempting to polarise politics through the initiative on the holy river.
Given our habitation patterns and movement of people as well as cattle across tracks, bullet trains will have to necessarily slow down unless they run on elevated tracks, Ramesh said. "In China, passengers have been told to move away from conventional trains to bullet trains, and this is simply not possible in India," he added
He further adds, "We make 4000 coaches every year and in 2012, when I was Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation, we had got the Railways to agree that all new coaches will be fitted with the DRDO-developed bio-toilets. But the larger issue is one of retrofitting the 50,000 coaches presently in use."
Last Year in October, Ramesh had launched an acidic attack on Modi with his "more toilets than temples" comment, saying it is borne out of his "blind desire for the Prime Minister's position." Whereas, in 2012, he had said, "I think toilets are more important than temples. No matter how many temples we go to, we are not going to get salvation. We need to give priority to toilets and cleanliness."
Questioning the purpose of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train, he said " The project will involve an expenditure of at least Rs 100 crore per km. The distance is 543 kms and therefore the investment will be close to Rs 55,000 crore at least and the would be at least Rs 5000 or so, but who will use this train, he questions.
Launching an attack on Sadanand Gowda, former Rural Development Minister says, "The constant attention and his focus should not get diverted into chasing bullet trains just to make some Indians feel good that they have also ‘arrived’".