The foundation stone of $17 billion worth ambitious Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project led by Modi government and backed by the Japanese is already placed; however, the question is – when will India’s first bullet train dream become a reality?
The groundwork for Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train was kicked off in December 2017, but since then, the project has faced a number of challenges over land acquisition and opposition from local farmers. The plan by National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) needs total acquisition of 1400 hectares of linear land worth Rs 10,000 crore across 195 villages in Gujarat, 104 villages in Maharashtra and area in Dadra & Nagar Haveli. However, only 0.9 hectares in Bandra-Kurla Complex has been physically handed over to the NHSRCL for development of India’s first bullet train.
First major dispute is over compensation schemes offered in both states being different. Maharashtra provides four times the circle rate of the land, plus a 25% bonus, as well as a one-time payment of Rs 5 lakh. Upon loss of home, one can opt to buy a new place nearby or money to buy place elsewhere at double the cost of their home – aside from a number of compensation plans for farmers and those who lost livelihood. While for Gujarat, the compensation is 4.75 times the existing yardstick price of land or the average rate of 1.5 kilometre radius – whichever is higher; 25% bonus and same livelihood compensations.
Besides land acquisition, the locals are concerned about the impact of bullet train on their resources, restrictions in the area as well as the effect of vibrations of the high-speed train. There are problems regarding the splitting of farm land at several places for the straight bullet train track – which can disrupt agricultural operations. Once these problems are ironed out by the NHSRCL, the actual development of India’s first bullet train can begin.