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Shinde government clearing minor barriers for bullet train, clearing forest, and securing a desirable BKC plot

After taking office, the Shinde government expedited the construction of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train by granting forest clearance, signing a shareholder agreement, and transferring the key Bandra Kurla Complex land.

Mumbai: The Shinde-Fadnavis government in Maharashtra is addressing a number of minor obstacles for the Rs 1.1 lakh crore project after removing major roadblocks like issuing a forest clearance and granting land in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s preferred Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.

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

Many of Mumbai’s satellite towns that the bullet train will travel through have their regional plans managed by the MMRDA.

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.”

According to the official, the MMRDA has also issued directives requiring anyone planning any structural work in the area affected by the bullet train to first obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the NHSRCL.

The 508-kilometer Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project is being carried out by NHSRCL with the goal of enabling 320 km/h travel between the two cities in three hours. Currently, a train trip takes over seven hours.

Scattered plots and sphere of influence
The NHSRCL shared the map of the bullet train alignment and the influence zone for land acquisition and change in reservations in early 2020, according to MMRDA officials who spoke to ThePrint. However, the urban development agency just sent it to the MMRDA for action only this year, they added.

In a draught notification published by the MMRDA on September 14, it is mentioned that 19 small plots in Bhiwandi, many of which are less than a hectare in size, will have their land reservations changed.

“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.

The region within a 20-meter radius of the bullet train alignment limit in the elevated segment of the project is regarded to be the influence zone, according to the NOCs for the zone, an NHSRCL spokeswoman told ThePrint.

The influence zone extends to 25 m from the centre line for the underground segment, which is around 21 km from Thane to Bandra Kurla Complex, where the bullet train would end.

“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.”

Government of Shinde’s pressure
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is funding the bullet train, which will stop at 12 stops, four of which will be in Gujarat and the rest in Maharashtra.

In Maharashtra, the project got off to a poor start because to the slow rate of land acquisition and other legal obstacles, as well as the Shiv Sena lead by Uddhav Thackeray’s staunch opposition.

The project, however, has received tremendous support ever since the Eknath Shinde-led administration, which is made up of the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), took office on June 30.

The Shinde government gave the project a forest clearance within the first two months of taking office, signed the shareholder agreement, and handed over the prime Bandra Kurla Complex plot required for an underground station.

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