Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, which is already facing several hurdles, is likely to get derailed further.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, which is already facing several hurdles, is likely to get derailed further. Gujarat Khedut Samaj (GKS), the association of farmers protesting against land acquisition for the project, is now exploring legal options, including approaching the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the courts of Japan, for redressal of their grievances.
GKS, along with the affected farmers, will meet JICA officials to discuss the problems and farmers’ opposition regarding the bullet train project. “First, we will meet officials of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to seek their intervention in the bullet train project since it is the financing agency. If we do not get their support, we will go to the ICJ and Japanese courts. We are taking legal opinion from our advocate,” GKS president Jayesh Patel said.
“JICA has agreed to meet us and we are going to Delhi later this week. We want to tell them that everything in the bullet train project is not happening as per the JICA guidelines and it is also in violation of international treaty,” he said. According to GKS, the Gujarat government is ignoring the social and environmental impact and human rights issues as per the JICA guidelines on land acquisition. Also, the farmers’ body pointed out, since this is a Central government-driven project, work should be done as per Central rules.
“The Central government has delegated power to Gujarat to acquire the land for the bullet train project under Article 258 of the Constitution, but that does not mean that the state can apply their rules and policies to acquire land. Ultimately, it is the Central government’s project, and land acquisition should be done as per the Centre’s land acquisition rules and not as per the Gujarat government’s policy,” Patel said.
The Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project was announced a year ago. Due to protests by affected farmers, the government has so far managed to acquire only 0.9 hectares out of the 1,400 hectares of land required. Farmers falling in the alignment zone in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have been opposing the acquisition of land. Many farmers in Gujarat have already approached the high court in this regard.