Shiv Sena controlled Thane Municipal Corporation’s move to reject the transfer of land for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore bullet train project has surprised its estranged ally BJP. The ruling party in TMC has also rejected a proposal to accept compensation from the National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd, in charge of the bullet train project, for the transfer of nearly 2000 hectare land. It has simply dumped the proposal in the cold storage and put the ball in the court of the BJP-led government at the Centre.
The fate of bullet train hangs in the balance. Five years after the Centre sanctioned the 508-km long Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor, only 97 hectares out of the 432 hectares of land in Maharashtra has been acquired, which is only 22% of the total land required. In Gujarat, a total of 825 hectares out of 956 hectares have been acquired, which is 86%. Unless state and Centre swing into action the land acquisition and subsequent development will not take place.
This move comes days after the party led Maha Vikas Aghadi government faced an embarrassment after the Bombay High Court stayed the Mumbai Suburban District Collector’s decision to transfer land for metro 3 car shed project at Kanjurmarg. Sena has led a scathing attack against BJP for putting roadblock in the development projects being pursued by the MVA government in Maharashtra and warned that it will do the same for the Central government projects be it bullet train or other infrastructure projects.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had questioned the very purpose of the bullet train saying that it will benefit Gujarat more and not Maharashtra. On last Sunday at his web address to citizens Thackeray however, said the issues with regard to Kanjurmarg land, where the Centre has staked its claim over ownership or bullet train, can be resolved through dialogue. Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in his response said BJP was always ready for dialogue but wanted the Thackeray-led government not to waste time but start car shed project at Aarey Colony.
Despite Thackeray’s call for talks, TMC’s decision may lead to confrontation with the Centre. However, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar’s move to mediate and talk to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a new twist to the ongoing ‘’tu tu mai mai’’ between Shiv Sena and BJP. Now the scene shifts to Delhi.