Farmers Aim to Bring Bullet Train to Screeching Halt with Petition
The bone of contention for the farmers remains the dilution of the 2013 Land Acquisition Act by the Gujarat govt.
"They said I'll get compensation at 4 times the Jantri rate. As far as rehabilitation and resettlement is concerned they said I'll get the Panchayat Waste Land. But why would I want that, I want fertile land against the fertile land I'm losing," said Ashwin Patel, a farmer based in the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
Patel is one of the many farmers who received a notice claiming his land is earmarked for acquisition for the much-hyped and now controversial bullet train project. He was speaking at the Khedut (Farmer) Sampark Abhiyaan at Nainpur Chokdi, in the outskirts of Ahmedabad. The meeting was called by the Farmer's Association of Gujarat (Gujarat Khedut Samaj) and led from the front by Gujarat High Court Lawyer, Anand Yagnik.
Purpose of the Sampark Abhiyaan
Speaking to The Quint at Chaklashi Farmers meeting in Nadiad, Jayesh Patel, the president of the Gujarat Farmers Association (Gujarat Khedut Samaaj), said:
Our sampark yatra from Ahmedabad will continue for four straight days. It will conclude on Monday, 25 June, at Dungra Village at Vapi District near the Maharashtra border. We want to explain the details of the bullet train project to the farmers. We will take their point of view, their issues, and present it as an affidavit under oath before the Japanese government.
He further added, "Today we are appraising people of the legal tangle caused by the project. Simultaneously, members of our organisation will visit each affected farmer and landowner across 192 villages and collect their signed affidavits. It will take at least a month's time."
Bullet Train Hits a Wall?
Anand Yagnik is also representing farmers from Surat against the bullet train project, and filed a petition in Gujarat High Court on Thursday, 21 June, against a preliminary notification issued by the state government for acquisition of land for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project.
The petition claimed that the Collector has not followed the provisions prescribed under the Centre’s land acquisition law. The HC asked the state government to file its reply by Monday, 25 June.
Dilution of Law
The bone of contention for the farmers remains the dilution of the 2013 Land Acquisition Act by the Gujarat government under the 2016 land acquisition act. In the amendment the clause for social impact assessment, environmental assessment, 70 percent consent of the land-losing farmer and several other clauses were bypassed by the government."
"Besides it’s a multi state project so the central govt should be the authority. What jurisdiction does the either of the state government have here?" asked Jayesh Patel.
Yagnik on the other hand is on a crusade to safeguard the rights for the farmers.
"The state government does away with rehabilitation and resettlement clause in its amendment. Now farmers of Gujarat will not be rehabilitated but the farmers of Maharashtra will. This is fatal discrimination. Is Gujarat not a part of India? Doesn't the Pradhan Sevak who is the PM of the country preach "Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas". Is Gujarat now excluded from vikas (development)?”
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