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Forest clearance, prime BKC plot in bag, Shinde govt clearing minor roadblocks for bullet train

Within 2 months of coming to power, Shinde govt gave forest clearance, signed shareholder agreement & handed over prime Bandra Kurla Complex plot for Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project.

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Mumbai: After clearing major roadblocks like issuing a forest clearance and giving land in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, the Shinde-Fadnavis government in Maharashtra is sorting out several smaller hurdles for the Rs 1.1 lakh crore project.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which last month handed over a prime Bandra Kurla Complex plot to the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) for the bullet train, is preparing draft notifications for changes in the reservation (slotted plot usage according to development or region plan) of multiple smaller plots along the bullet train alignment, an MMRDA official told ThePrint.

The MMRDA handles the regional plan for many of Mumbai’s satellite towns through which the bullet train will pass.

The official added: “There are several small scattered plots that fall along the alignment of the bullet train or in the influence region [area immediately around the bullet train alignment], and the reservations of these plots need to be changed to reflect that. We have issued many notifications to start the process of changing these reservations.”

The MMRDA has also issued orders mandating anyone wanting to undertake any structural development in the bullet train influence area to first get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the NHSRCL, the official said.

The NHSRCL is implementing the 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project which aims to make it possible to travel between the two cities in three hours, at a speed of 320 km per hour. At present, it takes about seven hours to travel by train.

Also ReadNow, Uddhav govt targets Modi’s bullet train project land for Mumbai Metro shed

Scattered plots and influence area

MMRDA officials told ThePrint that the NHSRCL shared the map of the bullet train alignment and the influence zone for land acquisition and change in reservations in early 2020. The urban development department, however, forwarded it to the MMRDA for action only this year, they added.

A draft notification that the MMRDA published on 14 September talks about a change in the land reservation of 19 small plots in Bhiwandi, many of them smaller than a hectare.

“There are many such small plots towards the north of Mumbai, across Thane, Bhiwandi, Palghar that are required for the project,” said the MMRDA official quoted above.

On the NOCs for the bullet train influence zone, a NHSRCL spokesperson told ThePrint that the area within a 20-metre distance from the edge of the bullet train alignment boundary in the elevated section of the project, is considered to be the influence zone.

For the underground section — about 21 km from Thane to Bandra Kurla Complex where the bullet train will terminate — the influence zone stretches to 25 m from the centre line.

“An NOC is required only if there is any structural development happening along the alignment,” he said. “NOC is required to check that any construction activity within the identified lateral distance does not infringe or adversely affect the bullet train’s foundations or structure loading.”

Push from Shinde government

The bullet train, which is being financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will pass through 12 stations, of which four will be in Maharashtra and the rest in Gujarat.

The project was off to a sluggish start in Maharashtra after a slow pace of land acquisition and other regulatory hurdles with the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena strongly opposing the initiative.

In contrast, the Eknath Shinde-led government comprising the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has given a strong push to the project ever since it came to power on 30 June.

Within the first two months of coming to power, the Shinde government gave a forest clearance to the project, signed the shareholder agreement, and handed over the prime Bandra Kurla Complex plot required for an underground station.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also readThese Maharashtra villages didn’t want to give up land for bullet train. But they’re on board now


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