Rs 1.10 lakh cr bullet train project hits this new wall
Alleging violation of laws in holding the stakeholder consultants for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, a group of activists has written to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is funding the project, seeking steps to ensure the consultations are compliant with the laws.
Alleging violation of laws in holding the stakeholder consultants for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, a group of activists has written to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is funding the project, seeking steps to ensure the consultations are compliant with the laws. The 508-km bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is being executed at a cost of Rs 1.10 lakh crore, of which Rs 88,000 crore would be funded by JICA. The bullet train will reduce travel time between the two cities to just over two hours. However, land acquisition is proving to be a major hurdle, with several protests by farmers in both Gujarat and Maharashtra in its protest.
In a letter to JICA president Shinichi Kitakoa, Krishnakant Chauhan of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, and other activists, raised concerns about the manner in which National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) was conducting stakeholder consultations for social and environmental impacts.
“The consultations are announced on a very short notice with the notice period varying from 24 hours to few weeks. There is no coherent approach to the consultations. At times, they are announced for district level and at others for taluka level. There is no clarification as to whether stakeholders should represent on social concerns or environmental issues,” the activists said in the letter.
The letter cited an example wherein the Corporation had published two advertisements for consultations at the same venue and at the same time, but for different purposes.
The activists complained that most of the reports were in English, but not made available in the local language. They alleged that farmers were disallowed to raise questions, and that environmental activists and experts, and even farmer organisations, were being kept out of the process.
“We have found Japan to be a country with serious commitment to environmental and human rights. However, the manner in which these consultations are being conducted, would reflect adversely on the country. It is our request that the process be re-conducted ensuring compliance with laws and respect for human rights,” they added. Admitting the hurdles in land acquisition, Achal Khare, MD of NHSRCL, had said at an event at IIT Gandhinagar earlier this month that the compensation package being offered to project affected persons was more than mandated by Land Acquisition Act. He had also said that ‘chai pe charcha’ would be held with them to sensitise them and to make land acquisition easier.
Source: DNA India