The government has decided not to issue work orders for the project until it gets possession of 90 per cent of the land.
Mumbai: After attracting flak over land acquisition for the high-speed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, the Maharashtra government has decided to appoint a public relations (PR) agency to deal with likely negative publicity related to the project. The proposed bullet train, whose route passes through the tribal-dominated Palghar, has received strident opposition from locals over the issue of land acquisition.
The bullet train, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project, has become an issue among Palghar villagers. “There are many misconceptions about the bullet train projects among the villagers. But we want the PR agency to speak to the people individually and in groups to make them understand that the project is not against them. The project will bring development and not just take away their land,” an official from Mantralaya said. The firm is expected to cover areas in Maharashtra as well as Gujarat.
The step was taken after Mr Modi was informed about anti-bullet train protests. The state government decided to acquire land only with the consent of owners, which will not spark protests, the official said.
The government has decided not to issue work orders for the project until it gets possession of 90 per cent of the land. Work was scheduled to start in June, which may get delayed, the official added. The government is also acquiring land for the Wadhawan port and four-laning of the Dahanu-Ahmedabad highway, which will also be done with land owners’ consent only.
The bullet train is expected to reduce the traveling time between the cities from the current six and a half hours (by train) to about two hours, fifty minutes. Many traders who frequently make trips between the two cities feel that this will be a boon for conducting their business and don’t mind coughing up Rs 3,000 for a one-way ticket for their weekly trips.