Project SMART:The Ministries of Union Urban Affairs and Railways have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the ‘Station Area Development along Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail’ project, also known as Project-SMART. The objective of this project is to enhance and develop the areas surrounding the stations along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR) line.
What is the development
The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and the Ministry of Railways have jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the ‘Station Area Development along Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail’ project, also known as Project-SMART. The objective of this project is to develop the surrounding areas of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Railway (MAHSR) stations to improve accessibility and convenience for commuters and other stakeholders, as well as to promote economic activities in the vicinity. The project aims to enhance the institutional capacity of state governments, municipal corporations, and urban development authorities in planning, developing, and managing the areas surrounding the MAHSR stations. The MoU was signed for four high-speed rail stations: Sabarmati, Surat, Virar, and Thane, out of the total 12 stations along the route. Surat, Virar, and Thane are greenfield developments, while Sabarmati is a brownfield development.
To facilitate the implementation of Project-SMART, the MoHUA, along with the governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra, and JICA, have organized a series of seminars and field visits in Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai. The first seminar was held at Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi, on May 8, 2023. The seminar brought together officials from the Japan Embassy, JICA headquarters, JICA India Office, JICA expert teams, the Ministry of Railways, the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited, MoHUA, and the Town and Country Planning Organization (TCPO).
The discussions and deliberations during these seminars will contribute to the preparation of ‘Station Area Development Plans’ for Sabarmati, Surat, Virar, and Thane HSR stations. Additionally, a model handbook will be developed, containing insights and methodologies adopted in Japan, India, and other countries for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and Station Area Development. These recent developments highlight the collaborative efforts between the involved parties to promote sustainable and well-planned development around the MAHSR stations.
How it will contribute to Indian railway
The development of station areas along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR) will have significant contributions to the Indian railway system. Firstly, it will greatly enhance the passenger experience by improving accessibility and convenience. The creation of well-connected and vibrant urban spaces will ensure a seamless and pleasant travel experience for commuters and other stakeholders. Moreover, the project will serve as a catalyst for economic growth in the regions surrounding the MAHSR stations. By attracting investments and fostering business opportunities, it will stimulate economic activities and generate employment opportunities. This infusion of economic vitality will benefit local communities and contribute to overall economic development.Another important aspect of the project is the strengthening of institutional capacity. The involvement of state governments, municipal corporations, and urban development authorities will improve their abilities to plan, develop, and manage the station areas effectively. This capacity building will not only benefit the current project but also enhance their expertise for future railway developments. The project incorporates Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) principles, which promote sustainable and compact communities around transit hubs. By encouraging mixed-use developments and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, it aims to reduce reliance on private vehicles and promote public transportation usage, leading to a more sustainable and efficient transportation system.
Furthermore, the collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provides a valuable opportunity for knowledge exchange and learning. Leveraging Japan’s expertise in urban development and transportation infrastructure, India can benefit from best practices and successful models. This collaboration will contribute to improved planning and implementation of railway projects in India.In summary, the development of station areas along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail will bring about significant improvements to the Indian railway system. It will enhance the passenger experience, foster economic growth, strengthen institutional capacity, promote sustainable development, and facilitate knowledge exchange. These collective benefits will contribute to a more efficient, inclusive, and sustainable railway network in India.
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