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The Farmers from Maharashtra are all set to oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s one of biggest dream project. The State Government is planning to use an obscure section of the land acquisition act to forcibly takeover land in the tribal district of Palghar for the bullet train project.
The centre may invoke the section 96 of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, Resettlement Act, 2013, to compulsory take over the remaining land for the project stuck after locals objected to price-based ‘private negotiation’ acquisition proceeding for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor, as reported by The Hindu.
The Maharashtra government feels the situation is right to take some hard decisions in dealing with the protests, said senior officials present in a meeting with Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta on Saturday, June 1.
On June 1, a meeting was called to discuss on application of Section 96 under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act (MRTP). Chapter 8 of the MRTP provides for compulsory acquisition of land required for public purposes in respect of planned development or regional plans by the concerned authority.
A senior official, who attended the meeting, said,
We have discussed giving as much as four times the value of land for the bullet train project even when forcibly acquired. The Government now feels it is time for the price-based negotiations to end. We need to move fast to finish rest of the acquisition proceedings. The new policy will ensure both the encroacher and the land owner are duly compensated, something the previous law had neglected.
The Central Government has also decided to put in place a new compensation policy for encroachment on land meant for the bullet train project.
An estimated 312 villages in Gujarat and Maharashtra will have to give up land for the ₹1.08 lakh-crore bullet train project. Additionally, 7,974 plots belonging to the forest and railway authorities will have to be acquired in both States.
On August 25, 2018, at a meeting with Maharashtra Chief Secretary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set a deadline of December 2018 for completing land survey and acquisition. However, a report of the Palghar District Collector last year revealed that the bullet train project implementing agency National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) did not have a time-bound schedule to meet the deadline.
The Collector’s report had said of the 108.059 km land needed for the project, much is yet to be acquired through the government’s ‘private negotiation’ policy. Acquisition of the land spread over 73 villages in Palghar, Vasai, Talasari, Dahanu, Wada and Shahapur villages is being held up due to protests from local villagers.
The tribal farmers from Palghar district have been protesting against land acquisition for the project under the banner of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) for more than a year now. Bhumi Adhikar Andolan is an umbrella body of outfits working on land issues.
All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the national farmers’ body affiliated to Communist Party of India (Marxist) is also a part of the protest movement.
Ashok Dhawale, all-India president of AIKS said,
We will resist the state government’s move to forcefully acquire land with all our strength. We have been opposing the land acquisition for more than a year now, and will continue to do so. Taking away their land is the same as taking away their livelihoods.
Dhawale said that AIKS had given a call for statewide demonstrations on June 1, which marked the second anniversary of the historic farmers’ strike in Maharashtra that had forced the government to give a ₹34,000 crore loan waiver to 40 lakh farmers in the state. The key issues behind the demonstrations this year were the drought in the state, loan waiver, and the Forest Rights Act. There were huge demonstrations in Talasari, Dahanu, and Palghar, the areas that will be affected by the bullet train project. The farmers protested against the forcible land acquisition process under the banner of AIKS.
The Farmers Union had also sent a memorandum to the Japan government, pointing out the unfair and forceful process being used by the Maharashtra government to acquire land for the Bullet train project which is being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The farmers have decided to write to JICA to stop funding this project.
“Bhumi Adhikar Andolan will soon hold a meeting to decide the future course of action. However, the government can remain assured of our resistance. We won’t give up our lands like this”, Dhawale said.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Bullet Train project implementing agency NHSRCL has already called two high values tenders for construction of stations and viaducts for the High Speed Rail project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The project is expected to be completed in seven years and launching of first bullet train is scheduled on 15 August 2022.
The post India’s first bullet train project fights battle for land acquisition appeared first on Urban Transport News.
This article first appeared on urbantransportnews.com
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