Farmers from Surat, Valsad and Navsari districts filed 40 new petitions in the Gujarat High Court on Monday challenging the process of land acquisition for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, PTI reported. Similar petitions were filed in June as well. Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice VM Pancholi will hear all the pleas on Thursday.
About 1,400 hectares of land in Gujarat and Maharashtra, of which 1,120 hectares are privately owned, need to be acquired for the project. Around 6,000 land owners will need to be compensated. Farmers have said earlier that most of them are not ready to part with their land.
The new petitions come after farmers from Antroli village in Surat, where one of the 12 stations is proposed, withdrew four pleas. “As against that withdrawal, 40 more petitions were filed by the affected farmers, and the Gujarat Khedut Samaj intends to file 200 petitions by the weekend covering more than 150 affected villages,” Anand Yagnik, the lawyer of the petitioners, told PTI.
On September 18, around 1,000 farmers submitted affidavits to the High Court opposing the bullet train project. The state government has told the court that the problems with resettlement are minimal as the width of land to be acquired is just 17.5 metres. The Centre has not filed its affidavit yet.
In the pleas filed on Monday, farmers said the Centre is the “appropriate government” to acquire the land as the project extends to more than one state. They also claimed that the market value of the land has not been revised as required under Section 26 of the Land Acquisition Act. They challenged the Gujarat Amendment Act, 2016, which revised the land acquisition law of 2013, claiming it gives “unbridled and unfettered powers to the state government to exempt any project in public interest from the social impact assessment”.
The project is slated to cost Rs 1.1 lakh crore, of which the Japan International Cooperation Agency will fund Rs 88,000 crore.
Farmers said they also plan to take the matter to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “We are planning to travel to Japan where we will hold press conferences in five cities, including Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Yagnik said. “We will raise various issues pertaining to acquisition of land for the bullet train project.”