Railway freight corridor fuels land prices

Written by Rohit Khanna | ROHIT KHANNA | Kolkata, Sep 29 | Updated: Sep 30 2007, 08:53am hrs
Indian Railways' has already begun anticipating big hurdles in land acquisition for the $6.5 billion dedicated freight corridor (DFC) project, as middlemen are buying up land from farmers and asking for "sky-high" prices at many places along the proposed 2,800-route km.

IR has prepared the land plan for the project, which will need 5,720 hectares for the western corridor linking Mumbai and Delhi and the eastern corridor linking Ludhiana and Kolkata.

DC Mitra, managing director of Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd, said, "Whether the land will be available for the project or not is the confusion. It might become one of the biggest bottlenecks for the project."

RVNL is a special purpose vehicle created to undertake project development, mobilise financial resources and implement projects to strengthen the Golden Quadrilateral of roads and also port connectivity.

Mitra, addressing a seminar organised by the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce & Industry said: "Land acquisition is a big problem in all the states."

According to a senior IR official, land prices along the DFC alignment in some states have gone up manifold. "People have started buying the land from the villagers and are asking for a sky-high price," the official said. "The land plan would be sent to all the states concerned soon," he said.

While the railway ministry will pay for the land, it would ask the state governments to acquire the land. The state authorities would do the pricing, but there would be separate values for government and private land.

IR would offer a price at which any land in the adjacent area has clocked a deal. "The district magistrates have the power to offer consent award for any land by increasing the price by a maximum of 50%," Mitra said.