National High Speed Rail Corporation, which is building the bullet train corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, has devised a novel way to mitigate the issue of land acquisition with project-affected people by holding "chai pe charcha" with them. Following the example of the Narendra Modi led BJP in the run-up to the 2014 general elections, the company officials have reportedly stated that they plan to start these talks with the affected people from May.
The NHSRCL spokesperson, Dhananjay Kumar, told PTI, "We want cordial relations with and support from the people who will be affected by this gigantic project. Therefore, our officials will hold meeting with PAPs at public places and, over tea, discuss facts about the project." Kumar said that these talks were meant to sensitise the people about the project, thereby, making land acquisition for the project easier for the company and acceptable to the PAPs. He added, "This 'chai pe charcha' will win their confidence and help us get them emotionally involved in it."
The official reportedly stated that the company had got the cell phone numbers of 2,000 PAPs to whom it would send bulk messages, in local languages, explaining the importance of the Bullet train project, and admitted that officials earlier failed to properly communicate with farmers and villagers about it.
Notably, the firm needs 1,400 hectares of land, including those that fall in forest areas, to go ahead with the construction of the corridor in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The deadline for acquisition of land is December 2018, as work on the project has already started in both the states, he said, adding that the company has provisioned an extra 25 per cent monetary incentive for those who will hand over their land voluntarily.
"We want to start civil works by the end of the this year," Kumar said.
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The respective state governments have already received proposals for clearances required to acquire forest land and the same was under consideration, he said, adding that all decisions about the project would be taken collectively by the three stakeholders, including the Centre, and governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
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