Gujarat HC gives green signal to Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project
The Gujarat high court on Thursday gave a green signal to the Ahmedabad- Mumbai High-Speed Rail or Bullet train project by rejecting a petition filed by 100 farmers challenging the land acquisition process by the state government.
A bench of Justices Anant Dave and Biren Vaishnav termed the process, followed by the Gujarat government for acquiring land for National High-Speed Rail Corporation, valid.
The court, however, has kept open the issue of higher compensation demanded by the farmers, who want to sell land as per the current market rate and not circle rate of jantri of 2011 as fixed by the Gujarat government.
Of the total 1,400 hectare land required for the 508-km-corridor between two western states, over 1,000 hectares fall in eight districts of central and South Gujarat.
Farmers from the south Gujarat districts of Surat, Navsari, Valsad and Vapi challenged the legality of the acquisition process done as per Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (Gujarat Amendment 2016).
The new act has done away with social and environmental impact survey included in the original act passed by the centre in 2013. The farmers claimed that acquisition should be done as per central law as the Ahmedabad- Mumbai High-Speed Rail project was one by central government.
After the setback, the petitioners’ counsel, Anand Yagnik, said the farmers are likely to approach the Supreme Court against the order.
“The high court has observed that land acquisition going on by the Gujarat government is legally and constitutionally right,” said Anand Yagnik, farmers’ counsel, adding, “But the court has kept the issue of compensation open. So this cannot be called total defeat of the farmers. We are likely to move the SC.”
Yagnik said that of 6,900 affected farmers and 8,800 house owners, 4,000 haven’t taken any compensation so far and some 3,000 have accepted whatever was offered by the government.
“Along with 4,000 farmers who have rejected the government’s offer so far, rest, who have accepted but at the same time unhappy with the compensation amount, can also join the petition to be filed in SC,” Yagnik added.
The farmers’ lobby labelled the BJP government as anti-farmer. “By opposing the petition, the Gujarat government has proved that it is against the interest of the farmers,” said Darshan Nayak of Gujarat Khedut Sangh, the group that has been leading the cause.
The bullet train project, which will cost Rs 1.1 lakh crore, is touted to revolutionise the travel in India by reducing the time period to 2 hours from 8 hours to cover a distance of 500 km between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
Financed by Japanese International Corporation Limited, the foundation for the project was laid in September 2017 by PM Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. The project is expected to be completed by 2023.
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