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Blog Entry# 3563328
Posted: Jun 23 (06:35)

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Last Response: Jun 26 (12:31)
  
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Jun 23 (06:35)   Bullet Train Project: Gujarat Congress MP tells farmers, govt wants to snatch fertile land

a2z~   12927 news posts
Entry# 3563328   News Entry# 342518         Tags   Past Edits
Cautioning farmers against “haphazard land acquisition” for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, the Congress for the first time openly reached out to the affected farmers in Gujarat and asked them to oppose the high-profile project, saying that the BJP government intends to “snatch away their productive farmland and livelihood” without paying adequate compensation for its “own political gain”.
Taking part in the four-day-long “Sampark Abhiyan” — a campaign launched against land acquisition by Gujarat Khedut Samaj, a farmers’ body — that began on Friday, Congress Rajya Sabha member Amiben Yagnik cautioned farmers “blindly signing on consent forms” related to the land acquisition.
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people who will give land for the bullet train will not get a chance to travel. It is meant only for businessmen and tourists from Ahmedabad who are keen to travel to Mumbai. Why should farmers give away their fertile land for such a project,” asked Yagnik, who addressed two meetings in Kheda district — one of the eight districts of Gujarat where land will be acquired for the Rs 1,08,000-crore project.
“Isn’t there an alternate route. Why can’t land near the existing railway line between Ahmedabad and Mumbai be used for the project. Where will you go once you are uprooted from your land? Have you ever thought of that,” she asked while addressing a meeting near Nenpur village of Mehmedabad taluka.
Addressing a modest gathering of farmers at a cold storage unit near Chaklasi, about 40 km south of Nenpur, the Congress leader accused the BJP government of going ahead with the project for its “own political gain”. “We are not against development, but we are here to protect the rights of farmers,” she said, adding that the “Congress is with the farmers”.
At the meetings, senior High Court lawyer Anand Yagnik explained to the farmers the differences in the Centre’s land acquisition law and the one amended by the Gujarat government. The farmers have been demanding acquisition of land under the Union law which offers mandatory consent and social impact assessment before the land is acquired for the project.
“Why should a Daya Naik and a Sanjay Gokhale in Maharashtra get more money for their land, and why should farmers in Gujarat be left out? Secondly, the Gujarat government has not raised the jantri rates since 2011, so would you want to accept a compensation based on rates that were fixed seven years ago,” asked Yagnik.
The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), which is executing the project, plans to acquire 612 hectares in Gujarat, 7.5 hectares in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and 246 hectares in Maharashtra. According to the NHSRCL, over 5,400 people will be affected by the project in the state, with the highest number of those in Ahmedabad (1,196) followed by Kheda (783).
Over the four days of the campaign, the Gujarat Khedut Samaj will try to reach out land-losing farmers in 192 villages of the state. “We are trying to get the views of the farmers, and we plan to file an affidavit before the court saying that people do not want this project,” said Jayesh Patel, the outfit’s president, pointing to the protests by farmers in Maharashtra and parts of Surat.
While some of the farmers welcomed the Gujarat Khedut Samaj’s decision to hold the campaign, others objected to the Congress participation.
“It looks like the Congress party is trying to provoke the farmers… Why should slogans be raised against the project? It might happen or not, we are not against it,” said Nilam Patel, who owns 24 bighas at Mahij village and works as a regional manager in a private firm in Ahmedabad. Nilam, however, agreed that questions raised about 2011 jantri rates and inadequate compensation at the meeting were valid. “Yes! We should not be cheated,” Nilam added.
There were others who were completely against the compensation offered by the government. “I do not want to give up my land. It is my only source of livelihood. If the government needs my land, then my two sons should get government jobs. They are educated,” said Ashwin Patel. Another farmer, Sanjay Patel, also welcomed the move by Gujarat Khedut Samaj and the Congress to connect with the farmers. “At least somebody is asking questions. It will help us,” he said.
Vegetable farmers of Bhumel village near Chaklasi felt that the project will push them out of farming. “I have one acre of land and we get three to four crops of different vegetables every year. The pillars marking the alignment of the project have been laid right in centre of my field. If the bullet train project passes through the centre of my field then there will be hardly any land left for cultivation,” said 62-year-old Babubhai Parmar.
Several farmers who attended these meetings complained that, without explaining the project or its future impact, the authorities have taken their consent and signatures on forms that were in English.

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