How Villagers Turned Billionaires With The Upcoming Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project

Due to the central government paying compensation in exchange for the land parcel it took over to build the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail, villagers have reportedly become billionaires.

Mohni residents Kantilal and Hasuben Patel gave up the land their house once stood on for the Bullet Train corridor and received Rs 55 lakh. They hope to see the train zip past from the balcony of their swanky new bungalow. Pic/Nimesh Dave

The house in question sits on the side of the busiest street in the Antroli village in Palsana taluka of Surat district. It’s the one that leads to the gram panchayat headquarters. A swanky three-storey structure, it is coloured tastefully in ivory and chocolate brown; the front door secured by a biometric scanner. A solar panel sits tight on the roof. The ground level leads to a plush living area on the first floor, with an airy terrace that houses a swing, a staple in most homes in Gujarat. 

On the sofa sits Indravadan Vyas, the village priest, and his son Parimal, who has followed in his father’s footsteps, serving the village with sacred know-how. “You can either view it as karma or dharma. In karma, God rewards you for your good deeds. In dharma, you tell God what you wish for,” says Parimal stoically.

Antroli resident Satishchandra Desai takes pride in the fact that the Surat station of the Bullet Train project is being built on his land. Desai is among the scores of residents of Antroli, Niyol and Mohni villages who have received tens of crores of rupees as compensation for the land acquired for the project, changing their lives forever. Pics/Nimesh Dave

The wiry, bearded man is in a philosophical mood for good reason. Till three years ago, the family had a five-figure monthly income which they earned by conducting rituals in Antroli and neighbouring villages. Their home was a modest two-storey structure sitting deeper inside the village. 

Then, in 2019, Indravadan witnessed Rs 34 crore drop into his bank account, all of it tax free; all of it legal. All beyond his wildest dreams. “You can either call it logic or magic,” Parimal continues.

Indravadan Vyas, the village priest at Antroli, went from earning a five figure monthly income to being the owner of Rs 34 crore in exchange for six bighas of his land. Pics/Nimesh Dave

Indigenous “warriors,” consisting of young men from the Amazon village of Sao Luis, patrol the Javari River while defending their territory using bows and spears.

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