NHSRCL to acquire land for bullet train project

The Maharashtra government claims that the plot offered by Godrej forms part of land it has staked claim to in a suit filed against the company in 1973.

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MUMBAI: NHSRCL will now have to acquire a 10 acre alternate plot in Vikhroli which the Godrej Group, Mumbai’s biggest private land owner, offered for the proposed bullet train project, through a land acquisition process after hearing all parties on the amount of compensation to be paid.

The Maharashtra government claims that the plot offered by Godrej forms part of land it has staked claim to in a suit filed against the company in 1973.

The suit is still pending before the Bombay high court. Last year, Godrej had challenged a notice for acquisition of another of its plot near Eastern Express highway for the Mumbai-Ahmadabad bullet train project.

It offered an alternate plot which National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd (NHSRCL) has accepted as feasible, after having it checked by its experts.

The Bombay high court bench of Justices Amjad Sayed and PD Naik on Wednesday disposed of the petition filed by Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd saying it has worked itself out in as much as an alternate plot is now accepted as the location for the bullet train project.

But the HC left contentions of all parties open. The acquisition for a public project has to be under Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013.

The offer of the alternate land was accepted, but the question was how it is to be acquired.

Last month the HC had sought state advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to step in to resolve an issue that had sprung in negotiated acquisition process of that alternate plot of land after the company’s counsel Navroz Seervai said the state was being “obstructionist’’ and trying to keep it getting Rs 572 crores in lieu of the land.

Under the new land acquisition act, there are two ways to acquire; one is by private negotiations and other is the long-drawn acquisition process.

Kumbhakoni informed the court earlier that he had held a couple of separate meetings with Godrej and their solicitors and Bullet train authorities and the additional solicitor general Anil Singh and one joint meeting but the issue could not be resolved through a mutual agreement.

Seervai counsel for had argued earlier that the company accepted Rs 229 as a land price (for government land) which the collector mentioned even though the company said market value of the land which is “a private land” is actually Rs 450 crore.

The acquisition of a private land for public project allows for 100% solatium (money given as a compensation for loss) and in this cases an additional 25%.

The amount togged up to Rs 572 crores. Godrej had offered to return entire amount without interest if it loses against the state in the suit and the amount would go to the state, the state however had said it wanted the return with interest.

Source: ET Realty

Image Source: Financial Express