Mumbai

Bullet train: ‘NHSRCL using force, money for farmers’ land’

It sent people to ‘cajole’ farmers into voluntarily giving up land, says activists’ group

The Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) has alleged that the National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd. (NHSRCL), responsible for the bullet train project, has used force and money power to take possession of farmers’ land in Jamshet village of Dahanu taluka.

In a statement, the BAA, an alliance of 200 organisations that work for the land rights of adivasis and farmers, claimed the NHSRCL administration sent people to villages to cajole farmers into “voluntarily” parting with their land.

“The NHSRCL has employed a fleet of retired revenue officials and youth from other villages to visit the project affected villages. Under the guise of updating land records and bringing the names of heirs on record, they have fraudulently taken the thumb impressions of unsuspecting adivasis on consent forms (sahamati patras),” the statement said.

For every thumb impression, it said, the youth were initially given an incentive of ₹1,000, which has subsequently been increased to ₹2,000. This is in addition to the substantial monthly honorarium being paid to them and their team members. “The BAA condemns the use of money by the authorities and questions the source of funding for the same. It calls upon the NHSRCL authorities to put its financial statement (including details of expenditure) for the past three years in the public domain,” the statement said.

After having obtained only limited success through “mutual negotiation” and “voluntary sale”, it alleged, the government on May 31, 2019 announced that it would acquire land under the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act 2013. Some talathis have also been involved in obtaining “consent” under the guise of bringing the names of heirs on record, it said. “The BAA strongly condemns the misuse of official machinery and demands that the government come clean on its adopted policy for obtaining the land -- is it acquiring the land vide LARR 2013 or is it continuing its policy of ‘mutual negotiation’?

The BAA claimed that on July 16, a large posse of policemen accompanied the surveyors to measure land in Jamshet village. While the NHSRCL claimed that 87 farmers had consented to the measurement, the farmers protested, saying their consent had been taken fraudulently. “Individual farmers submitted in writing to the surveyors that they were not consenting to the measurement, but the surveyors refused to accept the submissions. However, as the farmers refused to give their consent, the joint measurement did not take place,” the statement said.

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Printable version | May 22, 2020 8:21:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/bullet-train-nhsrcl-using-force-money-for-farmers-land/article28529286.ece

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