Bullet Train project manages to drive through Land Acquisition deadlock

MUMBAI: Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project costing $17 billion, expected to be constructed by August 2022, was likely to be delayed due to problems in land acquisition. It faced stiff resistance from farmers and tribal villages, especially in the Palghar district of Maharashtra. The Indian Railways is acquiring around 1,400 hectares of linear land in Maharashtra and Gujarat at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore.

However, the project now seems to be on track as the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has floated its first tender for India’s first bullet train for building a bridge in Navsari district of Gujarat.

With this, NHSRCL officials said, a gradual end to the deadlock over the land acquisition process in the two states was in sight, according to a report. It cited sources saying there were encouraging signs from Palghar too.

In Palghar, the NHSRCL has been able to rope in women of 73 villages where land is to be acquired, says the report. These women have been entrusted with the task of facilitating communication between the village heads and NHSRCL engineers for the joint measurement survey. A team of 15 women from various blocks has been set up to explain the compensation packages being offered and the exact land requirement.

The report cited officials as saying that this method was working, as the project team had been able to conduct surveys in 18 of the villages. Till a few months ago, the survey teams could not even enter some of these areas. In Dahanu, for instance, where the project team even faced violence, officials have now been able to establish contact with all the 16 villages where land is required. “We have been able to establish dialogue with all the concerned in the villages so that there are no misgivings or lack of understanding about the project, as well as what we offer to the locals,” Dhananjay Kumar, NHSRCL spokesman, told. “We are on schedule as per the timeline of the project,” he said.

The construction for India’s first high-speed train project, the 508-km long train corridor, was to begin in January 2019 and the deadline for land acquisition is the end of this year. India wants the project’s completion target to be advanced by a year to 2022, the 75th year of India’s independence.