The Kanjurmarg land could be allotted for the bullet train project-PM Narendra Modi’s pet project- “once the dispute over the plot is resolved”, sources said.
Thackeray on Thursday held a meeting with urban development minister Eknath Shinde, CM’s principal advisor Ajoy Mehta and chief secretary Sanjay Kumar to take stock of the situation arising out of the HC verdict.
“It was felt that the legal battle over the Kanjurmarg land will be a long-drawn one, and we may not succeed in the litigation. The CM expressed the view that the administration should explore other options like the BKC bullet train terminus land so that work for the prestigious Metro project does not suffer and that the project is completed in a time-bound manner,” a senior official told TOI.
Tenders for bullet train terminus floated last year
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government is looking into the possibility of using the land earmarked for the bullet train terminus at the Bandra-Kurla Terminus for the Metro 3 car shed. For the Metro 6 car depot it is considering Pahadi Goregaon.
The Pahadi Goregaon site was one of the alternatives being discussed to Aarey Colony before the MVA government zeroed in on the Kanjurmarg plot for the Metro 3 car shed. Both the Metro 3 and 6 depots were to come up at Kanjurmarg, the MVA government had decided before the Centre challenged the land transfer and the HC stayed it in its interim order.
A major hurdle for the bullet train project in Maharashtra was cleared in November last year when the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) floated tenders to build a bullet train terminus in BKC. The bullet train terminus is to be built underground, on approximately 4.9 hectares, while above it will be the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) building, across 50 hectares. The MMRDA had valued this underground land at Rs 350 crore.
A senior cabinet member said the HC order on the Kanjurmarg plot was a huge embarrassment for the CM.
All along, the official said, an impression was created that there was no dispute on ownership of land, but it was found in the HC that the Mumbai suburban collector had no case. “Prima facie, it appears that neither the collector nor the Mantralaya bureaucrats were sure if the land was disputed. At no stage was the CM informed that the 2018 order passed by the then state revenue minister Chandrakant Patil (saying ownership was with state) had been challenged before the HC by the salt commissioner and before city civil court by one of the land lessees, S R Goradia. We feel the CM will have to fix responsibility for inept handling of the case,” the bureaucrat said.