New Delhi (Sputnik): The Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) has stopped funding India's first bullet train project after more than 1,000 Indian farmers launched a massive protest against land acquisition for the ambitious project, local news reports suggested. However, India's Railway Ministry has denied the reports, describing them as "far from the truth."
"There have been news reports that JICA has stopped funding for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Project on the pretext that the government should first look into the problems of farmers. This news is not true and not based on facts," a statement issued by the Indian Railway Ministry reads.
The New Indian Express, in a report, claimed that the JICA had stopped transferring funds after a group of farmers approached the Gujarat High Court challenging the land acquisition for the project. In a letter written to the JICA, the farmers had requested the agency to "withhold any installment to be given to the Government of India" till the guidelines have complied, the newspaper claimed.
"The recent developments have miffed the Japanese agency. JICA, which is funding the project, has refused to release further installments. The Prime Minister's Office has taken note of it and has ordered to form a special committee to look into it," the newspaper quoted a senior Finance Ministry official without naming him.
However, the Railway Ministry on Tuesday clarified that no payment was pending from the JICA.
"In fact, the Government of India and JICA have already signed a loan agreement of about 10 billion yen and no payment is pending from JICA as on date," the Railway Ministry clarified.
India's National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd (NHSRCL), the nodal agency for the execution of the project, said that it is committed to the interests of the affected farmers, adding that various reports, i.e. social impact assessment, environmental impact assessment and indigenous people plan have already been submitted to the JICA.