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UPDATE 1-Mexican president expropriates land for construction of Mayan Train

·1 min read

(Adds details of project)

MEXICO CITY, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador expropriated 1.09 million square meters (269 acres) for the construction of the Yucatan peninsula's planned Mayan Train railway, according to the official gazette published Monday.

The 1,500 km (930 mile) line is already under construction, with the aim of linking tourist zones. Lopez Obrador deemed it a matter of national security at the end of July as several pending legal injunctions clouded its future.

Monday's announcement said the Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development would compensate land owners in line with appraisals from the Institute of Administration and Appraisals of National Assets.

The move is backed, according to the gazette, by the country's constitution, which it said both provided for land expropriation and asserted the priority of railways for national development.

The president has insisted the multi-billion-dollar project will be finished by the end of next year.

Lopez Obrador also strengthened control of the construction operation by transferring Grupo Mexico's building contract to the defense secretary. (Reporting by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Bradley Perrett)