In a letter to prime minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Ahmed Patel, on May 2, 2018, said farmers’ representatives had complained that rules and procedures under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, were not being adhered to while acquiring land for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. He alleged that meetings were being conducted barely at a day’s notice, without appropriate publicity and this defeated the very purpose of the consultation process, the objective of which was to educate the farmers about the impact of the project and their rights under the Act.
“It is extremely unfortunate that the Gujarat government is conducting this entire exercise, under the diluted version of the 2013 Land Act, which, in effect, runs contrary to the law passed by parliament,” the Congress leader said in his letter. He alleged that under the Gujarat government’s regulations, the need for mandatory consent of farmers and a social impact assessment, were done away with. The essence of a farmer’s right to his or her land, as per the 2013 legislation, rested on the two pillars of consent and an impact assessment report, Patel pointed out.
“By doing away with these processes, I am afraid that the entire land acquisition process may descend down to a mere tokenism,” the Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat said. Patel alleged that the rights of farmers and farm labourers over agricultural land were ‘trampled upon’ by large and powerful interests and hence, he added that the parliament had entrusted the executive to defend the rights of farmers and farm labourers, via the 2013 Land Act.
“Given that this project is being conducted under the mandate of the central government, I request you to ensure that the 2013 Land Act is implemented in letter and spirit, for the said acquisition. Any deviation from the 2013 Land Act, will result in grave injustice to the farmers and farm labourers of Gujarat,” the Congress leader said. “Our objective is not to obstruct the project the government is undertaking but in the process of building a bullet train, we cannot bulldoze the constitutional rights of farmers. I sincerely hope you will have the matter examined and the needful will be done at the earliest,” he added. Patel pointed out that the land acquisition process was initiated by the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) for the Mumbai–Ahmedabad bullet train project.