Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, center, and Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, right, shake hands in front of an E5 series Shinkansen bullet train (Photographer: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Bloomberg)

No Bullet Train On Our Land, Says Godrej Group

Till now, opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project — the Rs 1.1 lakh-crore high speed rail corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad — came largely from farmers and tribal communities in Gujarat and Maharashtra, whose lands were earmarked to be acquired for it. One of India’s well-known business houses has now joined the list.

The Godrej Group moved the Bombay High Court challenging the proposed acquisition of its land in Mumbai’s eastern suburb of Vikhroli for the 508-km rail corridor and demanded its realignment, said a senior official with the National High-Speed Rail Corporation, the project’s nodal agency. “The court has granted a 45-day stay and we’ll come out with some solution by then.”

The Godrej Group didn’t respond to BloombergQuint’s emailed queries.

The corridor — for trains running at 320-kilometre per hour — originates as an underground tunnel at Bandra Kurla Complex, the commercial centre in south Mumbai, and runs 21 km through the eastern suburbs of Ghatkopar and Vikhroli before emerging above ground after the Thane creek.

The group is demanding realignment in the stretch between Ghatkopar and Vikhroli that involves acquiring around 3.5 hectares — which is estimated to be worth Rs 500 crore — to build tunnel-shaft and supporting structures. An entry to the tunnel is on the said land parcel. The official quoted above, however, said: “The alignment won’t change.”

Business Standard first reported of Godrej Group’s move a day ago.

Also read: Piyush Goyal Hopeful Of Getting Enough Land For Bullet Train Project

The area under contention (encircled) is considered to be prime real estate worth Rs 500 crore. (Source: National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd.)
The area under contention (encircled) is considered to be prime real estate worth Rs 500 crore. (Source: National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd.)

The official said the feasibility study has been completed and the route design finalised. “At best we can consider moving entry to the tunnel 50-100 metres away.”

The bullet train corporation is focusing on acquiring land in Maharashtra though not a single hectare is under its possession yet. In the next six months, we’ll float tenders in Maharashtra, the official said. The project will be executed in four packages in the state costing Rs 3,000 crore each. “We are hopeful of completing the project by 2022.”

The foundation stone for the project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in September in Ahmedabad in 2017.

28 villages in Palghar and 16 in Dahanu may get impacted and farmers from the districts are opposing the project. Four farmers from Gujarat have petitioned the state high court challenging land acquisition. A total of 14,000 families may be impacted in Maharashtra, the official said.

155.7 km of the high-speed rail corridor is in Maharashtra, of which:

  • 7 km is in Mumbai.
  • 39.6 km passes through Thane district.
  • 109 km is in Palghar district.

Also read: Before it Can Fire, Bullet Train Draws Gujarat Farmers’ Ire