Bullet train project: Maharashtra government completes land acquisition except one in possession of Godrej & Boyce

Of the total 508.17 km of rail track between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, about 21 km is to be underground. One of the entry points to the underground tunnel falls on the land at Vikhroli (owned by Godrej).

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Monday, November 21, 2022, 08:03 PM IST
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Godrej & Boyce denies Govt claim that it is delaying the Ahmedabad- Mumbai Bullet Train project | Picture for representation

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court on Monday that the land acquisition for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet train project is complete except for the land owned by Godrej & Boyce company at suburban Vikhroli.

Advocate General (AG) Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and additional government pleader Jyoti Chavan, appearing for the state government, made the statement before a division bench of RD Dhanuka and SG Dige during the hearing in a petition filed by Godrej challenging September order of the State government awarding Rs 264 crores in return for acquiring its land for the project. 

Kumbhakoni said: "The land which is required for the project is from Bombay to Ahmedabad. The entire acquisition of land has been completed except for this patch (owned by Godrej).” 

Acts exempted the bullet train project from social impact assessment

Counsel for Godrej, Navroz Seervai, said that the petition was regarding constitutional challenge to the amendment to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act which exempted the bullet train project from social impact assessment carried out by experts.

He said that he would take 3 days to argue the main challenge along with the related issues. 

AG urged the court to hear the matter expeditiously as it had completed all formalities for acquisition and what remained now was taking possession of the land. The state government is in possession of all the other land and only the portion belonging to Godrej was not in its possession. 

The HC then said it will start hearing the matter from December 5. 

Godrej has also filed an application

Godrej has also filed an application in the writ petition seeking  disclosures of the documents and records relied upon by the State government for deciding on the plots of land to be acquired for the project. Seervai claimed that certain disclosures had been made before the Gujarat High Court which he will rely upon in the present petition.

The godernment had opposed the application stating that the question of giving inspection was an indirect roving and fishing inquiry.

The court has asked all the parties to submit synopsis of their arguments. 

The dispute over ownership of over 3,000 acres is pending

The dispute over ownership of over 3,000 acres of land has been pending between the government and Godrej since 1973. The dispute over the land acquisition for the bullet project is going on since 2019. 

Of the total 508.17 kilometres of rail track between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, 21 km is planned to be underground. One of the entry points to the underground tunnel falls on the land at Vikhroli (owned by Godrej).

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