PM Modi's bullet train project may get delayed after public protests

One of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most ambitious projects is likely to miss the deadline of December 2018. The $17 billion bullet train project, backed by Japan, has been hit by protests from fruit growers, say government officials.

The PM's office is now monitoring the project week-to-week, as officials seek to reassure Japan that the protests can be overcome through negotiations with fruit growers in Maharashtra.

The protests, which are backed by local politicians, have flared up in recent months against attempts to secure sections of a 108-km stretch. This stretch is around one-fifth of the entire bullet train corridor connecting Mumbai with Ahmedabad.

Farmers say they have worked for 30 years to develop the project and will not hand over the land. Some of them say they will sell the land only if the government promised their children jobs.

If India fails to get the land for the bullet train, it will not get the loans being offered by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This is a government development body, which is reviewing the project next month.

To assure Japan, Indian officials have sought a meeting this month with transport ministry officials in Tokyo.

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