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Where Bullet Train Project in India stands now?

Out of 431 hectares in Maharashtra, only 81 hectares have been acquired for the bullet train project

Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray has announced a “review” of the bullet train project. This has sent signals of uncertainty over the prestigious enterprise. Thackeray told reporters on Sunday night that the government will review the bullet train project. He also answered that he has not stayed the bullet train project as Aarey car shed.

India’s first-ever bullet train project is not new to controversy. National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), the body which is implementing the project has been facing controversies over land acquisition in tribal-dominated areas. The company is even facing cases filed by farmers in court. The fundamental opposition to this project is about Rs 1.1 lakh crore train corridor between Ahmedabad and Mumbai even though it is funded by an 80 per cent loan from Japan.

The initial plan was to complete the process of land acquisition by December 2018. However, the strategy was revised to link land acquisition to tender requirements. The implementing company now says that it is on course to do a trial run between Surat and Bilimora in Gujrat in August 2022. It also said that the full service for the public around December 2023. NHSRCL officials say they are hopeful of getting most of the required land for the project by the time tenders are finalized in mid-2020.

What is the progress in land acquisition?

The bullet train project needs land in Maharashtra, Gujrat, and a little in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. A total of 1,380 hectares is required, where 705 hectares have already been acquired. Out of 431 hectares in Maharashtra only 81 hectares have been acquired. In Gujrat, 617 hectares have been acquired from a total of 940 hectares.

Can Shiv Sena government scrap the project?

Maharashtra is not investing any money in the project for now. Maharashtra’s equity is through the land. Both the Maharashtra and Gujarat own 25 per cent each in the project. Remaining 50 per cent is owned by Central Government. The state government has the power to change the rules for land acquisition, as that is within its purview. However, it cannot impact the contract of Centre to Japan.

Read more: What is FASTag and why all vehicle owners should have it before December 15?

However, a change in government may affect the priority that is accorded the government. During the Devendra Fadanvis government, the project was directly watched by the CMO which actually helped in acquiring land. Anything related to bullet train got priority at entry-level from the Secretariat in Mumbai to the administration in the district.

On the other, Shiv Sena workers and leaders have had altercations with NHSRCL officials working on the ground. Shiv Sena MP Rajendra Gavit has in past joined the chorus against the project in Palghar and nearby areas where the party is politically strong.

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