The Gujarat government has expressed confidence in completing land acquisition for the ambitious Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet train project prior to its scheduled time of December 2018. This was communicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last Wednesday by Chief Secretary J N Singh during a video conference under Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) initiative of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Under PRAGATI initiative, the Prime Minister holds discussions with Chief Secretaries and Secretaries of different state governments to take updates on various projects of national importance once in a month. Similarly, a video conference was held on Wednesday in which Modi had got updates about the bullet train project from the Chief Secretaries of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Speaking with The Indian Express, Singh said, “The video conference was held mainly to get updates on land acquisition progress for the project. And we have informed (the PM) that Gujarat will complete land acquisition procedure for the Bullet train project prior to one or one-and-a-half months of the scheduled date ie. December 2018.”
For the bullet train project, around 866 hectare land is to be acquired of which more than 600 hectare fall within Gujarat.
It is to be noted that earlier this month, the Gujarat government has passed a resolution to award 25% additional incentive on compensation to any farmer in the state who gives consent for acquisition of his land for public purpose after a mutual agreement with the acquiring body over the amount of compensation. To get the 25% incentive, the farmer has to give a written undertaking that he will not challenge the consent award in any court.
Singh said that apart from this, the PM has also asked to expedite the process of diversion of forest land for the project.
The Chief Secretary added that in Gujarat, there is not much forest land required for the project and the PM had instructed Maharashtra to expedite the process for diversion of forest land in their jurisdiction.
Diversion of forest land for a project of public sector undertaking is done under the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act in which the authority that needs the forest land has to compensate by providing the amount which is equal to the amount for aforestation of double the land that it will be acquiring to the concerned state government. “The only thing that the PM told to Maharashtra was to expedite the process (for diversion of forest land) and it will be done,” Singh said.
The estimated cost of the project is around Rs 1.08 lakh crore and a special purpose vehicle – The National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) – has been formed for the execution of the same.
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