Tribals hold hunger strike, bullet train meet called off in Palghar
Palghar district collector Dr Prashant Nanaware on Saturday afternoon called off the public consultancy meeting between the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) and the stakeholders in Palghar. Tribals from 73 villages in Palghar, through which the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train will pass, staged a hunger strike at Jeevan Vikas School ground, where the meeting was scheduled to take place, as they said they were not informed well in advance about the meeting. They also said they weren’t given the technical report of the project, following which the collector chided the NHSRC for not taking the villagers into confidence. The government has not announced the date on which the next consultative meeting will be held.
“The NHSRC wanted to hold the meeting for the sake of formality and did not take proper steps to publicise the meeting to discuss the environmental and social impact due to the bullet train project,” said Ramakant Patil,an activist and a protestor. As a result, a majority of the stakeholders did not even notice details of the meetings published in selected newspapers,said Patil.
An NHSRC official said that though the meeting was called off, “We will meet the stakeholders again and a suitable time will be given in advance.”
Meanwhile, some tribals from Vevoor in Palghar said they received calls from one Manoj Mishra, who claimed to be an NHSRC official and had said the tribals would receive blankets and goodies if they attended the meeting. So a large number of tribals turned up at the venue but returned empty-handed, they said.
Dhananjay Kumar, PRO, NHSRC, said according to initial investigation, the villagers’ claim is not true. Kumar said Manoj Mishra is not associated with NHSRC. “We have already intimated the Palghar police to conduct an inquiry into the matter,” he said.