A few months ago two members of the Parliament, one from Maharashtra, Raosaheb Danve, and the other from Gujarat, Darshana Jardosh, were given the posts of Minister of State for Railways. One of the primary reasons was to bring two rail projects on track – the High Speed Rail and the Dedicated Freight Corridor. On September 8, Danve met officials from the railways and the Maharashtra government at Western Railway’s headquarters in Churchgate.
This was the second leg of meetings chaired by Danve where issues pertaining to both these projects were discussed. He later asked the authorities to expedite land acquisition for faster implementation. The Rs 1.1 lakh crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project is closely monitored by PM Narendra Modi himself. However, land acquisition in Maharashtra is terribly lagging behind, Danve said.
According to officials from the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) implementing the 508-km Bullet train corridor, only 30 per cent land has been acquired in Maharashtra. The problem exists in districts of Palghar, Raigad and Thane where the authorities are finding it difficult to procure land due to issues pertaining to forest land, tribal land, relief and rehabilitation of PAPs, among others.
The situation has become critical as there is no set deadline for completing the entire project. On Wednesday, Danve asked the District Collectors to acquire land wherever possible by December.
Of the 508.17 km of the project, 155.76 km is in Maharashtra, 384.04 km in Gujarat and 4.3 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Out of the total Rs 1.10 lakh crore, funding of Rs 88,000 crore will be done by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
As per NHSRCL, overall 75 per cent of the total land required for the corridor has been acquired for the project, of which 30 per cent is in Maharashtra. At least 97 per cent of land acquisition has been done in Gujarat and 100 per cent in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
NHSRCL recently invited tenders for design and construction of the track for the double high-speed railway line between Vadodara and Sabarmati depot in Gujarat and has started on-ground construction work in the state. Civil work contracts for the construction of five railway stations, Sabarmati terminal, construction of 28 steel bridges crossing over railway lines, rivers, highways and road structures have been awarded. In Maharashtra, bids for constructing the underground railway station at BKC were called, for which the last date of submission is December 2021.