VADODARA: Giving away their piece of land, that too fertile, for a government project isn’t a pleasant thought. But landowners in eight Gujarat districts now feel they rightly bit the bullet. The handsome compensation for land they surrendered for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project has turned many into crorepatis now. Sixty-seven-year-old Hariom Vyas of Surat had little idea of the wealth his ancestors had left behind for him. Vyas, fondly known as Maharaj, was a small-time trader while his elder brother took care of their sugarcane and banana farming on 5.5 ‘bigha’ land they jointly owned in Antroli village on the outskirts of Surat.Now, Vyas is at a loss for words when he starts talking about how his fortunes changed overnight. The two brothers jointly received Rs 29 crore as compensation for 12,000 sq m of land they surrendered for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train, a dream project of PM Narendra Modi.What’s more? It’s on the same land parcel that the bullet train station will come up in Surat. “It was with God’s grace that without any family dispute, both of us got 50% share resulting in compensation of Rs14.5 crore to me,” said Vyas, who now owns more land, property, a fleet of cars and has made some fixed deposits as well.”I am so happy that the bullet train station will come up on my land,” Vyas told TOI.Amongst the eight districts of Gujarat where the land acquisition was carried out, the compensation paid in Surat is highest at Rs 1998.24 crore, one-third of the total reward. Landowners in Surat district got the highest compensation Against the total requirement of 160.51 hectares, 155.62 hectares of land covering 967 private plots have been acquired for the project.Like Vyas, the project has brought a windfall for many Surat farmers. In fact, landowners in Surat have received the highest compensation in both Gujarat and Maharashtra for the land surrendered for the project.The National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), the implementing agency of the project, said the land acquisition process is near completion.”We have acquired 98.91 % of the land required for the project in Gujarat and 99.75% land in Maharashtra,” NHSRCL spokesperson Sushma Gaur told TOI.Like Vyas, Dr Dipak Patel, who retired as director of Anand Agricultural University (AAU) in December 2020 and counting on his retirement corpus, received Rs 85 lakh compensation by surrendering 20 ‘gunthas’in Gamdi village in Anand district. For last two years, he has been earning Rs 4.5 lakh per annum extra for another land parcel he has leased out to L&T which is engaged in construction for the high-speed rail corridor.”Against one guntha (1,000 square feet) land, I would have earned a maximum Rs one lakh. But after I surrendered my land, I earned Rs four lakh for the same area of land. I received Rs 80 lakh compensation for 20 guntha apart from Rs 5 lakh lump sum given as award money against each survey number,” said Patel.He is a green card holder, who has packaged his bags and flown to the US to spend his retirement days with his New Jersey-based son and daughter.