Officials of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is funding the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, have apparently found violations of the agency’s guidelines in the process of land acquisition.
The officials held a series of meetings with farmers and their representatives and also activists, who are opposing land acquisition for bullet train project.
- Japan has entered into a contract with Indian government to build the country's first high speed bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
- 320-350 km/hour: Average speed of the train.
- 750: The passenger load capacity of the train
- 3 1/2 hours: Expected travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Currently it takes about 8 hours in train.
- Rs.1.10 lakh crore: Total cost of the project.
- The JICA has agreed to fund 81% of the total project cost, through a 50-year loan at an interest rate of 0.1%.
- 1,400 hectares: Land to be acquired in both the States.
According to sources, a team of JICA officials is now likely to convey its concerns to the authorities in Gujarat involved in the land acquisition process.
“They have agreed with our view that compensation has been reduced by the Gujarat government,” said a farmer’s representative, who met the JICA officials.
The JICA team met farmers and their representatives , their lawyer Anand Yagnik and activists in Surat, Bharuch, Valsad and other places to understand their concerns and reluctance to part with land after more than 1,000 farmers filed affidavits in the Gujarat High Court challenging the State’s land acquisition process, saying it violates JICA’s guidelines.
“During our meeting with JICA officials, we apprised them about our concerns and the unilateral approach taken by the State authorities with regard to land acquisition. We want fresh environment impact assessment and also social impact assessment,” said a farmer from Bharuch whose land is under acquisition process.
“After the meeting, the JICA team assured us that our concerns will be addressed and JICA guidelines will be followed,” said Rohit Prajapati, a leading activist with Pariavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS).
Jayesh Patel of the Gujarat Khedut Samaj (Gujarat Farmers Society), also met the Japanese team and put forward demands of farmers in South Gujarat.
“As per JICA guidelines, there must be fair compensation for those whose lands are acquired for any project where funding is provided by it but in case of bullet train project, that’s not the case because the Gujarat government has diluted the provisions so that compensation amount comes down,” Mr Patel said.
Through their lawyer Anand Yagnik, farmers alleged that the Gujarat government has diluted the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, after Japan entered into a contract with the Indian government in September 2015 to build the country’s first high speed bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
A total of 1,400 hectares land is being acquired in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Of this, 1,120 hectare land is owned by farmers, who have been demanding higher compensations.