Modi okays diversion of forestland for bullet train


Narendra Modi okays diversion of 77 ha of forest land for bullet train

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given in-principle approval for the diversion of 77 hectares of forest land for the ₹1.08 lakh crore bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

The clearances have come with a rider that the remaining deficiencies on pending claims under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, in proposals submitted by Gujarat and Maharashtra, must be ironed out at the earliest. The two States have also been told to coordinate closely with the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) to speed up the project.

“The State governments and the NHSRCL must coordinate closely to enhance execution speed of the project,” read the minutes of the meeting between the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretaries of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Dadra & Nagar Haveli on Wednesday.

ModiThe application for clearance of the 77.45 hectares, spread over 42 villages in the two States, was submitted by Maharashtra on February 7, 2018, and Gujarat on April 20, 2018.

The diversion, allowed under Section 2(2) of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, could be the highest after about 47 hectares of forest land was diverted for the ambitious Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project and another 58 hectares for the ₹45,000 crore Dedicated Freight Corridor between Mumbai and Dadri.

“We have been on the conservative side while approving this diversion,” said an official of the State government.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister was also informed of the ‘disturbances’ in several villages of Maharashtra and Gujarat, where locals are protesting against the project.

The overall progress of the acquisition work was reported at 51% for Maharashtra and 58% for Gujarat. Mr. Modi was appraised of the pending FRA certificates yet to be submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change by both the States.

“We have asked the collectors to submit the FRA certificates and maps of the alternate alignments for the private land. The final approval will not be given until the loopholes are fully plugged,” senior officials said.

MUMBAI , APRIL 27, 2018