India’s bullet train project hits a roadblock as land acquisitions not over yet
Foundation stone was laid in 2017 by PMs of India & Japan
New Delhi, March 24 (Delhi Crown): The much-awaited Bullet Train project connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad is still embroiled in land acquisition tangles, even as it has been four-and-a-half years since the foundation stone for the project was laid by prime ministers of India and Japan – Modi and Shinzo Abe
Initially the project was to get completed by 2023, however it has been extended a couple of times with the new deadline being 2026.
Japan had also sanctioned a loan amount of USD 14 billion, meeting over 80% of the total cost involved. The rest of the cost has to be borne by the state governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Most of the over 500-km long bullet train project is to be constructed on an elevated corridor in order to avoid land acquisitions.
According to Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw, 11% of the land needed for the project is yet to be acquired.
Most of the land acquisition woes are being faced in Shiv-Sena ruled Maharashtra where residents of as many as five villages Palghar district are opposing tooth and nail the acquisition of their agricultural lands for the “Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR)”.
Though, the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NSHRCL) is trying its best in pursuing the villagers by highlighting the benefits of the project, handsome compensation amount, rehabilitation and resettlement offered to them.
Besides land acquisition, the project has been lying in doldrums due to the delays in finalisation of contracts as well as adverse impact of Covid-19, said the Railways Minister in a statement in Parliament on Wednesday.
“The execution of Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail (MAHSR) has been delayed especially due to delay in land acquisition in the state of Maharashtra and consequent delays in finalisation of contracts as well as adverse impact of Covid-19,” the minister said in his written reply to a question in Lok Sabha.
Out of the total 1,396 hectares of land required for the project, about 89% (i.e. approximately 1,248 hectares) has been acquired yet.
In Maharashtra, 68.65% out of the total 297.81 hectares needed for the project has been acquired, he said and added – “Five villages in Palghar district in Maharashtra have passed the proposals in Gram Sabhas to oppose the land acquisition for the MAHSR project.”
In Gujarat, 98.76% out of 954.28 hectares needed for the project has been acquired, while 100% acquisition of the 7.9 hectares of land needed has been done in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.