He said a service road would also come up along the high speed corridor, save some section, for the use of the general public.
“There were apprehensions in people’s mind and misconceptions. We have managed to clear those issues and win their trust….by December end we will be able to complete the acquisition process,” said managing director of National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited Achal Khare.
He was addressing a press conference at Virathan Khurd village in Palghar, one of the 73 project affected villages. Palghar has seen continued agitations surrounding land acquisition with villagers declining to part their lands for the project.
However, an official of the project execution agency said 45 villages out of 73 in the district have given their consent to the land acquisition process.
“There were apprehensions among the people that we would be acquiring 200 feet of land when the requirement is only 60 feet. We also engaged Marathi speaking officials to reach out to them and engage in conversations with them about the project and allay their concerns,” Khare said.
Parashuram Kashinath Gaikwad, one of the likely affected families in Virathan Khurd, said they would not budge from their position unless a job is offered to a family member.
About 110 km of the 508 km train corridor passes through Palghar. The project requires an estimated 300 hectares across 73 villages, affecting about 3,000 people, in the stretch. Land acquisition for the Japan-backed USD 17 billion bullet train – that will cut down the distance from Mumbai to Ahmedabad to under three hours from the usual seven – is being bitterly opposed by tribals and fruit growers in Palghar district.
Khare said alternative source of employment would get generated once the project comes up, though providing jobs as demanded may not be feasible.
He said skill sets would be imparted to the people as the project would throw open many opportunities, including the need for drivers.
“We will ensure their self employment,” he said.
Apparently indicating the involvement of some elements with vested interests in the land acquisition process, he claimed that the protest is not from the affected people.
“We have cut the involvement of middle men and hopefully we will get the land issue sorted with their support,” Khare said.
The 508-km high-speed corridor will connect Ahmedabad with Mumbai, with the train speed expected to touch a peak of 320 kmph.