Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe today launched India's first bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
Modi described the ambitious Rs 1.10 lakh crore project, which will cut travel time between the two cities from seven hours to less than three, as a "big gift from Japan to India".
Addressing crowds gathered at the Athletics Stadium in Sabarmati for the event, Abe said the Indo-Japan partnership was special, strategic and global.
"A strong India is in Japan's interest and a strong Japan is in India's interest," Abe said after the two leaders pressed a button, unveiling a plaque.
"My good friend Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a far-sighted leader. He took a decision two years ago to bring high-speed train in India and to create a new India," he said.
The Japanese prime minister added that he hoped to enjoy the "beautiful scenery of India through the windows of the bullet train' when he returns in a few years.
Congratulating the people of India, Modi said this was a "a bold step towards realising an old dream of a bullet train".
Lauding Japan, he said the country was such a friend that it gave a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at 0.1 per cent interest for the project.
Modi also took a dig at the opposition which had often sounded sceptical about the bullet train project.
"When earlier I talked about bullet train, they (opposition) used to say it was big talk, and now when it has come they are saying what is the need for it," Modi said.
"Our stress is now on high-speed connectivity which will improve speed, reduce distance and ensure economic progress," he added.
In 1964, Modi said, Japan started the bullet train and now this technology was in 15 countries.
"From Europe to China, the bullet train's image can be seen everywhere. Not just economical but also societal changes have been brought about by these trains," said Modi.
The train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is expected to be completed by 2022. The train would cover the distance of over 500 km in less than three hours.
Japan has extended a soft loan for the ambitious project conceptualised by Modi. The project is a joint venture between Indian Railways and Japan's Shinkansen Technology.
The prime ministers of the two countries also laid the foundation stone for an institute that will come up at Vadodara where around 4,000 people will be trained for the bullet train project.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his Maharashtra counterpart Devendra Fadnavis were present on the occasion.
While Abe, who arrived here yesterday on a two-day visit, spoke in Japanese, Modi spoke in Hindi. Abe's speech was translated into Hindi.
Prime Minister Modi held an eight-kilometre road show with his Japanese counterpart Abe and his wife yesterday, the first such event by the Indian premier with a visiting head of government.
The visiting dignitaries and Modi paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at the Sabarmati Ashram where the Father of the Nation lived for about 12 years.
Abe and Modi yesterday also visited the iconic medieval-era mosque, Sidi Saiyyed, in the city.
The two leaders will today hold the 12th Indo-Japan annual Summit meeting at Gandhinagar. An India-Japan business plenary meeting will be held later in the day.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)