Bullet train: Gujarat farmers write to Japanese government, alleging violation of guidelines

Farmers in Gujarat, whose lands will be acquired for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train have written to the Japan government, alleging violation of the guidelines of the Japanese agency, which is funding the project

A letter sent by farmers in Gujarat, whose lands will be acquired for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, has asked the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is providing a soft loan for the Rs 1.10-lakh-crore project, to withhold disbursal of funds to the Indian government, until the agency’s guidelines are complied with, said a lawyer. Advocate Anand Yagnik, who represents five petitioners, who have challenged the land acquisition for the project before the Gujarat High Court, said the petitioners and 1,000 other affected farmers, led by the Gujarat Khedut Samaj, have written to the Japan government.

They have also sought an appointment with Japan’s ambassador to India, Yagnik said. The letter invited the Japanese ambassador to Gujarat, for understanding the farmers’ plight, he said.

See also: Bullet train project delay: Railways mulls opening shorter 50-km section by 2022

The letter alleged that JICA’s guidelines for such financial assistance ‘are being flagrantly violated’, so it should ‘withhold any instalment to be given to the government of India’, till the guidelines are complied with, he said.

Among other things it alleged that while the JICA’s guidelines seek the setting up of an advisory committee, for environmental and social considerations, no such committee has been formed.

The environmental impact assessment and social impact assessment reports for the project, date back to 2010 and in the meantime, other projects such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Western Dedicated Freight Corridor and Express Highways were planned, the letter said. Hence, the cumulative impact of all these projects in the region must be considered, it said.

For the project, around 1,400 hectares of land will be acquired in Gujarat and Maharashtra, of which 1,120 hectares is privately owned. The project was launched by prime minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, in September 2017.

 

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