Irked and adversely affected by the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, nearly thousand farmers protested against the high speed rail project and submitted affidavits in the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday September 18. In the affidavit, the affected farmers from various districts of Gujarat, from where the bullet train route will pass, stated that they do not want acquisition of their land for the project.
Petitions challenging the land acquisition process for the high speed rail projects being heard by a division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi.
Several petitioners raised the issue saying that the Gujarat government diluted the Land Acquisition Act 2013 after Japan entered into a contract with India for the bullet train in September 2015. The farmers claimed that many more cultivators are affected by the Centre’s ambitious Rs 1.10 lakh crore project adding that neither their consent was taken, nor any consultations were done with them while initiating the land acquisition.
During the hearing, affected farmers also mentioned that the social impact assessment for rehabilitation and resettlement is also not being discussed by the government and that the agencies have undertaken “unknown proceedings” (with farmers are not aware of).
Since the project extends to more than one state (Gujarat and Maharashtra), farmers are of the belief that Centre is the “appropriate government” to acquire the land for it.
Notably, the Supreme Court had directed the high court on August 10 to expeditiously hear matters of the bullet train-affected farmers.
Anand Yagnik, farmers’ lawyer told reporters that the high court is unable to hear the matter as since the last five weeks, the Centre has been consistently seeking time to submit the reply. “These 1,000 affected farmers will be approaching the Supreme Court with a prayer to stay the project. We will mention the matter before the apex court Wednesday for an urgent hearing,” Yagnik said.
The bullet train project was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in September 2017. Around 1,400 hectares of land will be acquired in Gujarat and Maharashtra, 1,120 hectares of which is privately owned. Around 6,000 land owners will have to be compensated.