Anticipating a change in Maharashtra's stand on the Centre's ambitious bullet train project with a new government in the state, the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has written to the state's chief secretary, urging him to intervene to resolve long-pending issues stalling the project.
The letter written by former NHSRCL chief Satish Agnihotri on July 7, the day he was sacked by the Railway Board on charges of corruption, highlights the road blocks for the project in Maharashtra.
The project in the state had become a non-starter primarily due to problems relating to acquiring government land and forest areas. With Chief Minister Eknath Shinde being supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), officials believe that the project will now receive the push that it needs to take off in Maharashtra.
In the letter, Agnihotri has said one of the most important long-pending issues, which will affect the commencement of the work in Maharashtra, is the clearance under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. He said while the application for the clearance, after compliances of conditions and the payment of the mandatory charges, was submitted in March 2021, the issue is still pending with the Maharashtra forest department.
''Your kind intervention is requested in resolving aforesaid issues for providing encumbrance-free land at the earliest and expedite acquisition of remaining land in Thane and Palghar districts,'' Agnihotri said.
He further stated that the Japanese have been requesting for the likely dates for the commencement of the civil work in Maharashtra as the tenders for underground stations at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) and an undersea tunnel were cancelled after repeated postponement over the last couple of years.
The letter also contains a list of 16 key locations where the project is facing pendency from the Maharashtra government due to issues related to land acquisition, a petrol pump that needs to be shifted, diversion of forest land, the shifting of a DC Earthing Station, a rolling stock depot, the approval for tree transplantation or cutting proposals, among others.
The progress of land acquisition in Maharashtra for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project has moved at a snail's pace with 72 per cent (313 hectares out of a total requirement of 434 hectares) of the land needed for the project acquired. However, the physical possession has only been for 39 per cent of the land, which is 168 hectares.
On the other hand, contracts for civil works, stations and track work have been awarded for the entire project length of 352 km in Gujarat and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, where 99 per cent of the land required for the project has been acquired.
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