Shiv Sena chief may share dais with Cong, NCP in Palghar against BJP’s bullet train project
Bullet Train Virodhak Janmanch, an umbrella body of NGOs objecting to acquisition of farm land will hold a rally in Palghar on Sunday.mumbai Updated: Jun 02, 2018 14:45 IST
After losing the Palghar bypolls to ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Shiv Sena leadership is likely to share the dias with the Opposition – the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – in the district to protest the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train.
Bullet Train Virodhak Janmanch, an umbrella body of NGOs objecting to the acquisition of farm land in Palghar and areas of southern Gujarat, will hold the rally on June 3. They have sought support from political leaders across party lines.
At this rally, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is likely to be on stage with Congress party leader and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh, senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jayant Patil and other Left leaders. At the time of going to press, there was no official confirmation if Thackeray would attend the programme.
Sena deputy leader and spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said, “Uddhavji has not taken a call on whether he will attend the event.” A decision is expected by Saturday.
Given their strained ties with the BJP, it would be interesting to see if Thackeray joins the Opposition, at a time when they are uniting to take on the BJP. If Thackeray skips the meet, it would mean he doesn’t want to ruffle the feathers with the BJP, although a Sena representative may attend the event. The Sena chief had earlier extended support to Palghar farmers’ protest against the ₹1.08-lakh-crore project.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, at a press conference held a day earlier, had expressed confidence in the Sena. “I don’t see the Sena joining hands with parties that are ideologically on the other side of the spectrum,” Fadnavis had said.
Of the 1,400 hectares to be acquired for the project, 353 hectares are in Maharashtra. So far, the National High-Speed Rail Corporation has managed to acquire 0.9 hectares in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC).
Ulka Mahajan, one of the activists involved in organising the rally, said they will highlight the plight of people from the region who are set to lose their plots. “Leaders of political parties that have taken a stand against the project will talk about why the project should not go ahead,” she said.
According to Mahajan, the tribal population from the region is against the state’s decision to dilute the role of gram sabha in infrastructure projects. “The state has diluted the law and made it convenient for them to acquire farmers’ and tribals’ scheduled land,” Mahajan said.
According to a government notification issued in November 2017, the sanction of the gram sabha is no longer required for purchase of tribal-owned land by the state government through mutual agreements with owners.
This is not the first time the Sena has opposed a mega project backed by the BJP-led government at the Centre. It also opposed the proposed mega oil refinery at Nanar in Ratnagiri. In March 2018, the Sena extended support to the farmers’ long march organised by Communist Party of India-(M) affiliated All India Kisan Sabha.
‘WILL ACQUIRE LAND USING ETHICAL MEANS’
While 23 of the 73 villages in Palghar taluka, from where the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train will pass, are unwilling to give away their land, the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) said they will acquire plots only through “ethical” means.
Uday Singh, chief project manager, NHSRC, said, “Land acquisition is a major hurdle for the project, mainly in Palghar. The NHSRC is offering five times the market value of the land as compensation. We will try to renegotiate with tribal land owners. We will acquire the land through the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013. December 2018 is our deadline to acquire land in Palghar, Thane and Mumbai suburban districts.”
Singh said the project will be inaugurated on August 15, 2022. “We can easily acquire the land under the more stringent Land Acquisition Act, 2013, but we will adopt only fair means,” he said.
On Saturday, Palghar district collector Dr Prashant Narnaware will hold a public consultative meeting in Palghar to discuss the social and environmental impact of the project. “Queries from the stakeholders will be answered within a week and will be posted on the official website of the NHSRC,” said Dhananjay Kumar, spokesman of the organisation.