The Gujarat government on Thursday doubled the compensation for farmers whose agricultural land in urban areas will be acquired for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, reported PTI. The farmers will also get an additional 25% “bonus” on the compensation amount.
State Revenue Minister Kaushik Patel said farmers having their land under Urban Development Authorities and Area Development Authorities will get four times the market rate like their rural counterparts. According to the Centre’s compensation rates, land owners in rural areas get four times the market rate and those whose land is in urban areas get two times the market rate.
“We have taken this decision to expedite the land acquisition process for the bullet train project,” said Patel. Around 6,000 land owners will have to be compensated.
Patel said the higher compensation was being offered because the government does not want any farmer to feel cheated. “This is the dream project of [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi and we will make it possible with our sincere efforts,” said Patel, according to DNA. “We want to make sure that all farmers get sufficient compensation as per rules and the compensation should be timely too.”
The project has faced stiff opposition from farmers and land owners in both Gujarat and Maharashtra. Around 1,000 farmers in Gujarat submitted affidavits to the High Court on September 18, many alleging that their land was being acquired without their consent and they were not being provided any rehabilitation or resettlement package. The petitioners pointed out that environmental 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 bullet train corridor from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is proposed to be an elevated 508-km high-speed rail line meant to benefit diamond merchants, textile traders and other professionals shuttling between the two cities. In the process, the project will cut through at least 312 villages in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, take over 866 hectares of fertile farmland and cut down more than 80,000 trees.
The project is expected to cost Rs 1.1 lakh crore, of which the Japan International Cooperation Agency will fund Rs 88,000 crore. The Japanese agency confirmed it will fund the project after a report recently claimed that it was pulling out. The report had claimed the Japanese agency had asked the Indian government to first settle farmers’ protests in the project-affected areas.