The Gujarat High Court on Thursday sought the state government’s response to a bunch of petitions filed by farmers of Surat seeking quashing of a notification issued by District Collector for acquisition of land for the high-profile Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project.
The farmers, in their petitions, have said that the Collector has not followed the provisions prescribed under the Centre’s land acquisition law — Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act — of 2013.
“As per the mandate of section 26 of the Act of 2013, before initiating the land acquisition process, the market value has to be revised and updated, meaning thereby that as per the Gujarat Stamps Act, 1958, the annual statement of rates/jantri has to be revised and updated and more particularly, the same has to be done in conformation with sound scientific valuation process,” the petitions moved by lawyer Anand Yagnik stated, adding that the district land acquisition officer has not followed any of these provisions.
The petition alleges that under the Union law, the land notification has to be sent to the land owners, but they did not receive it and got it accidentally from the panchayat office.
The petitioners are from 15 villages of Surat district who have said that their land is one of the most fertile ones which yield two to three crops in a year. They claim that according to the Food Security Act, a fertile land being used for agricultural purposes cannot be acquired otherwise.
Earlier this week, farmers from 15 villages, including Kimoli, Muland, Shekhpur, Antroli, Mohani and Bhatiya, which fall on the route of the train project, had submitted a letter to the Surat Collector, listing 14 objections.
The farmers who want the acquisition of land under the Union law and not the state’s amended law, has demanded that the government should carry out environment impact assessment and social impact assessment before acquiring land.
According to the farmer leaders, the government is in the process of acquiring over 150 hectares from these 15 villages.
The project, being executed with the financial and technical assistance of Japan, is likely to cover over 500 km between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, passing through Anand, Vadodara, Bharuch, Surat, Valsad and Vapi districts of Gujarat. The government aims to acquire around 680 hectare from eight districts of Gujarat. The process of acquiring land has already started.