Around 1,000 Gujarat farmers on Tuesday submitted affidavits to the High Court opposing the bullet train project that proposes to connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad, reported PTI.
Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice VM Pancholi are hearing five petitions challenging the land acquisition process for the project. The petitioners said most of the farmers were not ready to part with their land. About 1,400 hectares of land in Gujarat and Maharashtra need to be acquired for the project. Of this, 1,120 hectares are privately owned.
The farmers alleged that their land was being acquired without their consent and they were not being provided any rehabilitation or resettlement package. “The Gujarat government is presenting a case before the court that many farmers are ready to give up their land with consent, which is incorrect,” advocate Anand Yagnik told The Indian Express. “And to negate its claim, 1,000 farmers who are going to be affected by the project have submitted their affidavits while opposing acquisition of their land for the project.”
The High Court asked the Centre to respond to the farmers’ petitions by September 26, failing which the court may provide interim relief to the petitioners. Yagnik said the farmers would approach the Supreme Court because the Centre was not replying to their petitions in the High Court. “We will mention the matter before the apex court Wednesday for an urgent hearing,” he told The Hindu.
Apart from the affidavits, a number of farmers have written to the Japanese government about alleged violations of project guidelines and have sought an appointment with Japan’s ambassador to India, Yagnik added. The petitioners have also asked the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which is providing the loan for the Rs. 1.10-lakh crore project, to withhold funds till its guidelines are complied with. They alleged that an advisory committee mandated by the agency has not been formed.
The petitioners pointed out that environmental impact assessment and social impact assessment reports for the project date back to 2010, and asked the court to consider the cumulative impact of other projects such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor and express highways in the region.
The project was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in September 2017.