Bullet train: Palghar farmers protest even as Japan team hears out issues
Mumbai: For yet another time, locals of Saphale village in Palghar chased away land surveyors of Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor on Friday even as a delegation of tribals and farmers from Maharashtra was visiting Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Gujarat on Friday. The JICA is softfunding the bullet train project.
Two JICA officials are visiting Surat and Navsari in Gujarat to meet farmers who are going to get affected by the high-speed rail project. Farmers, especially those belonging to the Gujarat Khedut Samaj, have filed a series of writ petitions in the Gujarat high court, opposing the government’s move to take over their land for the high-speed train.
On Friday, when the Maharashtra delegation of farmers, under the banner of Adivasi Ekta Parishad, were meet the officials in Navsari, news trickled in that a team of land surveyors had landed in Saphale. The villagers stood in protest and refused to allow the land survey.
Sameer Vartak, who is associated with the parishad, said that the delegation explained to the JICA officials how their land was being taken away without their consent.
JICA has provided a soft loan of Rs 1.10 lakh crore at an interest rate of 0.1% for the train. The Gujarat farmers have argued that the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, was diluted after a project contract was signed in September 2015. They pointed out that the mandatory social impact assessment and consent of a majority of farmers were done away with to forcibly acquire the land.
In Palghar district, tribals have so far managed to keep away land surveyors. Of the 1,434 hectares land needed for the 508km Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail corridor, 353 hectares are in Maharashtra. The deadline for completing land acquisition is December this year.