With land acquisition issues plaguing the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, Japan on Monday called for immediate resolution of the issue.
Speaking at a tourism festival, Japan Calling, here in Ahmedabad, Japanese Consul General at Mumbai, Ryoji Noda, said that India needs to immediately solve the land problem, and added that the bullet train project will only be operational by the end of 2023.
“The bullet train project should be completed by the end of 2023. So there are only five years. We do not have much time. The land problem issue should be solved immediately… Japan and India are in very close collaboration to establish this high-speed train,” Noda said.
The Rs 1.08 lakh crore-project is being built with Rs 88,000 crore financial aid from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Last September, the Indian government had advanced the deadline of the project by a year, saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted it to be completed by 2022, though the official deadline set in consultation with the Japan government is 2023. Once completed, the travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will decrease to two hours.
However, the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC), which is executing the project, is facing protests from villagers and farmers over acquisition of land. The NHSRC has to acquire over 850 hectares of land in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Dadra & Nagar Haveli (UT), with a majority of the land to be acquired from Gujarat (612.17 ha).
The “stakeholders’ meetings”, organised by the NHSRC in several towns of Gujarat, have been witnessing protests by farmers, who say that the government has not been clear about the compensation package. In Gujarat, the NHSRC plans to complete land acquisition procedures by December 2018.
In Maharashtra, the corporation’s talks with the affected families in Palghar and Thane districts have failed to move ahead.
So far, the NHSRC has acquired only 0.9 hectares in Bandra Kurla Complex that forms the originating station from Mumbai.
According to farmers’ outfits, 192 villages in Gujarat and around 120 villages in Maharashtra will be affected by the project.