Tension has peaked in seven villages in the Vasai-Dahanu belt after Indian Railways issued a final notification to acquire land there for the ambitious national railway freight corridor project.
The acquired land will be used for the 1,483-km western segment of the 2,762-km corridor. This segment will be a double electric line, creating direct connectivity from JNPT port, near Uran, to Dadri, Haryana (via Vadodara-Ahmedabad-Palanpur-Phulera-Rewari).
The corridor is meant to feed into a series of proposed logistics parks in Mumbai, to be set up either in the Kalyan-Ulhasnagar area or Vashi-Belapur in Navi Mumbai, Vapi in southern Gujarat, Ahmedabad in Gujarat.
To decongest the existing suburban railway network, the railways also plan to run local trains on the Diva-Vasai-Panvel route, and lay additional lines under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project.
On March 25 2009, the railways first notified 12 villages in the area about land acquisition for the project. Opposition to the project has peaked, with sources saying railway officials ran into shrill protests when they went there for a survey in June 2009.
“The railways are taking over our land for the third time in 35 years. First, it was for a single-line track, then to double it. They promised us jobs and compensation — which we’re still waiting for. We’re not giving away any more of our land. They still haven’t sully used some of the land acquired for earlier projects,” a villager said on condition of anonymity.
The villagers have formed a group Railway Bhusampadan Virodhi Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti to oppose the acquisition.
“We read the list in the newspapers and will follow up on it. Our member of parliament is working to solve the problem,” local politician Hitendra Thakur said.
The MP in question, Baliram Jadhav, said he knew of the issue and had taken it up with the railway ministry, adding that he couldn’t say more as he was in a meeting.