The Bengal government is planning to hand over 90 per cent of the 1,055 acres required for the Bengal stretch of the dedicated freight corridor between Dankuni in Hooghly and Ludhiana in Punjab by March this year.
The move is aimed at putting pressure on the Centre to start the project ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls in Bengal.
Around 203km of the corridor will run through Bengal, for which the Centre requires 1,055 acres to lay railway tracks from near Asansol on the Bengal-Jharkhand border to Dankuni.
“Bengal has already handed over 70 per cent of the land to the Centre, including 91 acres that had been in possession of the state government. It is expected that the state will be able to hand over another 20 per cent of the total requirement by March. The government has been focusing on the land acquisition process over the past few months,” said a senior government official.
Sources said land acquisition began in Bengal five years ago under the Railway (Amendment) Act, 2008.
“The project is important for the ruling establishment in Bengal as it would create employment opportunities in the state. It is imperative for the ruling party here to generate jobs ahead of the polls. As the terminal station of a freight corridor functions in a manner similar to a sea port, it is expected that a large number of employment opportunities will be created,” an official said.
According to the sources, the Bengal government is also alive to the fact that the project is in national interest, hence the urgency.
As per an assessment by the railway ministry, the corridor will decongest the almost saturated road network. The shift is also expected to reduce green house gas emissions.
“As the project also concerns the environment, the state wants to come forward given the concerns over global warming. This is the reason why the land acquisition process is being fast-tracked,” a source said.