Amidst tight security, officials from the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has begun acquiring land for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project in villages Utiyadara and Old Diva in Bharuch district.
Of the eight districts where the bullet train will pass through in the state, 100 per cent land acquisition has been completed in Kheda, Anand, Navsari and Valsad districts.
The project is underway in Valsad, Navsari, and Surat districts of south Gujarat, but the land acquisition process in the neighbouring Bharuch district was yet to begin.
The ongoing Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project has encountered several obstacles since its inception, with land acquisition being one of the most significant challenges.
On Wednesday, officials began measuring land in Utiyadara village of Ankleshwar town.
However, villagers gathered in large numbers, resulting in a tense exchange between the two groups.
Following this, the Bharuch Police intervened and resolved the situation by facilitating a meeting between officials and protesting farmers.
According to officials in Bharuch's land acquisition department, over 1,000 farmers in 27 villages in the district are being asked to give up 127 hectares of farming land for the bullet train project.
While the majority of farmers have accepted the compensation offered for their land, approximately 400 have declined to part with their property, reports Indian Express.
Of 51 farmers in Utiyadara — 27 accepted compensations while 24 refused it and in Old Diva village — 56 refused out of 62 affected farmers.
Land acquisition has begun for Utiyadara farmers who had taken compensation.
According to NHSRCL records, 99.29 per cent of land has been acquired in Gujarat as of 14 May, and progress is being made on the 352-km route spanning eight districts of Gujarat and UT Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Additionally, eight high-speed railway stations from Vapi to Sabarmati are also currently under construction.
Following recent reports, Maharashtra had overtaken Gujarat in gaining land with 99.75 per cent of the required land acquired for the project in the state.
NHSRCL explained that completing the acquisition of larger portions of land in Maharashtra had expedited the project there now, however, the acquisition of smaller pieces of land in both states remains incomplete due to court battles with owners.
In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe initiated the Rs 1.1-lakh crore project at Sabarmati in Ahmedabad.
However, land acquisition was delayed due to protests from farmers seeking better compensation. Consequently, NHSRCL reviewed and increased the compensation offered to private landowners.
Presently, this is the only sanctioned high-speed rail project in the country.
The high-speed rail operating at 320 kmph will traverse along west India’s landscape, covering a 508.17 km distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in just about two hours.
The first trial run of MAHSR project, is scheduled for August 2026 between Surat and Bilimora (63 km).
The government is yet to determine a final deadline for the entire project.
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