The Mumbai-Ahemdabad high speed rail or the Bullet Train Project has been affected by COVID-19 and the ministry of railways is currently not able to provide an estimation of the completion timeline.
So far, 63.4 percent land or 885 hectares out of 1,396 hectares, has been acquired for the bullet train but an estimation regarding project completion timeline can only be provided once 90 percent land is acquired, Railway Board chairman V. K. Yadav told reporters on Saturday.
"For bullet train, all designs have been finalised, fully frozen, all issues related to forest and environment...we have got complete clearance. Land acquisition is an issue, unless we have land for a sufficient stretch, it is not advisable...Work on a linear project starts only when you have at least 90 percent of land," Yadav added.
The majority of land needed for the project is in Gujarat. As of now, nearly 82 percent of land needed in Gujarat or around 780 hectares out of 956 hectares has been acquired, Yadav said.
However, Yadav is confident that the ministry will be able to complete 95-100 percent land acquisition for the stretch in Gujarat within the next three months.
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The second largest stretch of the project falls in Maharashtra. As of now, 23 percent of land needed in Maharashtra or nearly 98 hectares out of 431 hectares has been acquired.
Before COVID-19 hit the country, the ministry was conducting joint measurement survey in Maharashtra but the pandemic halted the process. While the survey work has resumed recently, it is difficult to estimate the pace of improvement in this segment during the next few months.
"We expect some improvement in land acquisition process in Maharashtra to improve land acquisition process. The moment we get 90 percent land and we have positive go and all clearances we require. We are fully geared up as far as design etc is concerned," Yadav said.
The remaining stretch is in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, out of which seven out of nine hectares have been acquired. "Bullet train is progressing well. There has been a little setback due to land acquisition issue. We will estimate the timelines for completion once the land acquisition is complete," Yadav added.
The work related to under sea tunnel has also been stuck as this was supposed to under the supervision of Japanese players. However, COVID-19 has affected this process as well. "This is temporary. As soon as the pandemic subsides, we will be able to start the bidding too process," Yadav said.