Pleas challenging land acquisition process for bullet train project dismissed by Gujarat HC

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court today dismissed over 50 pleas challenging land acquisition process for Mumbai – Ahmedabad High Speed Rail ( bullet train) project saying that the compensation given to the land owners was fair.

The division bench of the court led by Justice A S Dave rejected the 59 of the total 61 pleas filed challenging the land acquisition for Japan assisted project. The court however observed that those seeking higher compensation could approach the government for the same.

The defence had argued that the NHSRCL in Gujarat is giving 6.5 times the published Jantri rate as compensation to the land owners.

Skill development training was also done in Kheda for the project affected people.

Notably, more than 50% land required in Gujarat for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore project for laying special track and other amenities on 508 km long route between Sabarmati to Mumbai.

Upholding the validity of the amendment in Land acquisition act by the Gujarat government 3 years back and observed that the compensation offered was fair. It also set aside the contention of the land owners/farmers on the point of non conducting of social impact assessment.

Notably, recently Managing Director of the National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd (NHSRCL) Achal Khare had said that the civil work of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project (popularly known as Bullet Train) was likely to start from March/April 2020.

He also said that the total estimated cost of the Japan assisted project as of now was Rs 1.08 lakh crores and any cost escalation (if any) could be known only after completion of the allotment of contracts. So far tenders of works worth around Rs 50,000 crores have been floated.

Addressing a press conference here Khare had said that there would be 12 stations on the 508 km long route of which 8 would be in Gujarat and 4 in Maharashtra. With the maximum speed of 320 kmph the total travel time would be 2 hours and seven minutes. 24 high speed trains would ply 35 times from each side every day in the beginning after completion of the project by December 2023. The one side fair between Ahmedabad and Mumbai has been planned at Rs 3000. For smaller distances it would be at the rate of Rs 7 a km per person. There could be discount for regular travelers. He was against the dynamic fair system like the ones in Rajdhani trains.

He said that the utility shifting work for the project was on in full-swing. Half of the around 1600 electric utilities including the high voltage ones, over 400 of the total 1000 signaling cables and hundreds of trees, 3 of the ONGC oil-wells have been shifted so far.

To a query he said that a good progress has also been made with regards to land acquisition but the old Jantri rate (the rate of lands fixed by the state government) has not been revised since 2011 and it was a major problem in acquisition of land. ‘People were not against the project as such but they were not happy with the old Jantri based land rates as the base for the compensation for their land. On our advise the state government increased the rates by 53% on the basis of capital gain index and it helped to a great extent but still in some areas like Navsari where the Jantri rates were the lowest, people were reluctant to give lands at these rates,’ he said.

‘The two third of the project is in 8 districts of Gujarat and remaining in 2 districts Palghar and Thane of Maharashtra. But the speed of the project was quicker in Gujarat where of the total around 5400 private plots needed for it, 2600 have already be acquired. Of the 198 villages in Gujarat, now the problem was only in around 15 villages and we hope that by December this year up to 85% of the acquisition will be completed. So far no compulsory acquisition has been done and all the land acquired was through mutual consent. In Ahmedabad 60% and in Vadodara 70% of the acquisition has been completed.,’ he said.

He said that a total of 1380 hectare of land was required for the project of which 622 hectare has been acquired so far. An estimated Rs 17000 crore was to be given as compensation to the displaced and others. In Gujarat so far around Rs 1800 crores have been disbursed as compensation for acquisition of 360 hectare of land. The project during construction stage would provide employment to around 25000 people and after completion give 3500 permanent jobs in operation and maintenance work with an additional 4 to 5 times of this figure as indirect employment opportunities.

DeshGujarat

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