Mexico to temporarily occupy private land for Yucatan train project

MEXICO CITY, July 24 (Reuters) – Mexico will temporarily occupy private land in the eastern state of Quintana Roo to carry out a rail project that is one of President Andres Manuel’s top priorities. Lopez Obrador, the government announced in a weekend decree.

The decree states that the government will take possession of 165,250 square meters (1.8 million square feet) in the municipalities of Solidaridad and Tulum in the Yucatan Peninsula to build infrastructure for the so-called Mayan train project.

Published in the government’s official gazette, the decree noted that the constitution stipulates that expropriations can only be made for reasons of “public utility” and must offer compensation, and that railways are a priority area for national development.

The multi-billion dollar project which the president hopes will boost local development has been blocked by injunctions, with critics saying the 1,470 km (910 mile) line is being crossed without proper environmental impact studies.

The railway will link tourist sites on the Yucatan Peninsula, including the resort town of Cancun.

The executive order, which will take effect immediately, comes less than a week after Lopez Obrador said the rail project was a matter of national security. (Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)