December 18, 2018 5:06:39 am
The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), which is implementing the proposed bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, has filed another affidavit in the Gujarat High Court, claiming that it has “dealt with” the issue of special law, (PESA), for acquiring land belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as well as their rehabilitation and resettlement.
The NHSRL affidavit stated, “I state that provision of section 16 onwards and more particularly in the matter of preparation of Rehabilitation and Resettlement Scheme are going to be followed to the extent to which the same are applicable, in as much, as many of the aspects of section 16, like publicity of the draft scheme, public hearing etc are substantially over.”
The affidavit added, “While doing so, the villages covered by Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA for short), have also been duly dealt with as per the requirement of section 16 of the Act. So is the position with reference to people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the matter of compliance with the said requirements.”
Appearing for the affected farmers, who have approached the High Court against the land acquisition, advocate Anand Yagnik contended that the PESA Act has not been followed as the authorities never took prior consent of the affected people as required by the said law.
“The PESA Act clearly states that the acquiring authorities should take prior consent of gram panchayats, which is not the case here. This project is going to affect 17 such panchayats in three districts, including Surat, Valsad and Navsari,” Yagnik told the Division Bench of acting Chief Justice Anant S Dave and Justice Biren Vaishnav.
Yagnik argued that the PESA Act mandates that prior consent should be taken even before the issuance of notification regarding the acquisition and also before conducting social impact assessment exercise. He said that “As per our information, no such exercise have been taken here. But, they have done it in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.”
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