The compensation provide to farmers, whose land will be acquired for the Ahmedabad–Mumbai Bullet Train project, will be ‘much more than what they are expecting’, implementing agency National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited’s (NHSRCL’s), managing director Achal Khare assured, on May 12, 2018. A joint measurement survey is being conducted at present, which is the last stage of the land acquisition process. After the survey is over, farmers will learn about the compensation package, he said.
Khare was speaking on the project, as part of the 2nd AN Khosla lecture series, organised by the Ahmedabad chapter of the IIT Roorkee Alumni Association, at the IIT Gandhinagar. “We have decided the entitlement package philosophically, which is more than what is provided in the Land Acquisition Act. For example, we will be giving them 25 per cent extra as part of terms of consent. There is a lot of compensation for rehabilitation and resettlement,” he said. “To allay their apprehensions, we will be providing each land loser an entitlement card, which will have his bank account number and all the items, against which he is going to get compensation. This will be monitored by the company, till the time he gets his last compensation,” Khare said.
For the project, around 1,400 hectares of land will be acquired in Gujarat and Maharashtra, 1,120 hectares of which is privately owned. Around 6,000 land owners will have to be compensated.
Farmers’ organisations and tribal groups have demanded that the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, such as a mandatory social impact assessment and impact study on food production losses – which have been done away in Gujarat’s amendment to the Act – should be followed in the acquisition of land for the Bullet Train project. The tracks should be laid on the land belonging to the Railways or the land already acquired for the Dedicated Freight Corridor Project, they have demanded, threatening agitations in the two states, if the demands are not met. The opposition Congress has backed their demands.
Khare said that the planning and design phase of the project is being completed and the construction will begin soon. The Bullet Train will run at a speed of 320-350 kms per hour and have 12 stations across its 500-km stretch. The train will have 10 coaches to start with in 2023 and will make 70 trips a day, 35 on each side. Each train will have 750 seats and will carry 17,900 passengers each way per day, he said.
The project will also see the first undersea tunnel in the country – seven kms out of the 21-km-long tunnel designed for the train – near the Thane creek, Khare said. Prime minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, launched the ambitious project last year. Japan has extended a soft loan for the project, a joint venture between Indian Railways and Japan’s Shinkansen Technology.