NHSRCL misses several deadlines in land acquisition for Bullet Train Project

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ruling party in center, is promising a High-Speed Bullet Train corridor between Kanyakumari and Chennai through its general poll manifesto and raising hopes of better connectivity for the people but the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) which is executing India’s first bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, is missing several deadlines in land acquisitions for the bullet train project. The Government has set a deadline for December 2018 to clear the land acquisition roadblock.

Around 140 km north of the Mumbai, in Dehane village of Dahanu block of the district, around 40 people of the Warli tribe gather to articulate their resistance to the project. Rupesh Rawte, a 42-year-old farmer who has 1.5 acres, asks why they should give up their land for a train that is not for them. He said that we will only be looking at it as it passes by. It is not going to stop for us and we can’t afford it.

The villages in the area are mostly populated by the Warlis, who depend on paddy cultivation. Dahanu is better known for its sapota orchards.

“Around a third of the requisite land has been acquired. The NHSRCL has completed measurement surveys in 40 of the 79 villages in the district” said Sushma Gaur, Spokesperson of NHSRCL

She said that Lack of trust based on certain experiences and misconceptions about the project adversely affected the land acquisition process initially. Now, with the help of the district administration, people are coming forward and are participating in the land acquisition process. The acquisition is based on consent and is fair and transparent.

But her statement does not match with the ground reality. Pascal Dongalkar, a resident of Uplat village in Talasri, another administrative block about a half-hour drive from Dehane, said that there is no way they can get any land. The gram sabhas have opposed it. Besides the bullet train, land acquisition for the Mumbai-Vadodara expressway will also be a factor in the election. BJP’s assurance of ST status to Dhangar community has also angered the Warlis as it would eat into the share of communities that are already in the ST category.

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