Bullet train project update

With the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project facing resistance from tribals in Palghar district, the National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd has now agreed to pay an additional bonus of 25% to consenting land sellers.

So far, only 30 hectares of the 180-hectare private land in the district has been acquired by direct purchase. With most of the protests coming from tribals in Palghar, Dahanu and Talasari, the district administration has now decided to go in for compulsory land acquisition. If land is forcibly taken away, the owners get 25% less than what is fixed by the district committee acquiring land.

Collector Dr Manik Gursal last month wrote to the NHSRCL, seeking a 25% consent bonus to consenting parties. “In direct acquisition, land owners got 125% of land cost. In compulsory acquisition, they will now lose 25%. NHSRCL has allowed us to acquire land and pay 100% of the cost,” said Gursal.

The first commercial run of the train has been pushed to 2026, due to land acquisition delays. With 75% land acquired in Gujarat, the trial run on a 50km stretch is likely to happen from Surat to Bilimora. The deadline for the trial run was revised to 2023 In Maharashtra, only 33% land acquisition has taken place, and in Palghar district, 27% land has been acquired. The total stretch of the project is 508.17km, of which 155.76km is in Maharashtra.

In Palghar district, most of the land spread over the 109.06km belongs to villages that come under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) (PESA) Act. “As of now, only nine of the 22 villages under PESA are still not willing to give away their land,” said Gursal, adding that 15 hectares of the 20 hectares of government land has been acquired.

Sameer Vartak, a Vasai-based activist, said, “The government is silent on the environment assessment report. People having land around the route will not get any compensation but will have to bear with the problems when a high speed train (350km per hour) passes by.”

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