Two newly elected Rajya Sabha members, from RJD and Congress, attended a discussion organised by a group protesting against land acquisition for the bullet train project.
Manoj Jha of RJD and Nasir Hussain of Congress were present at the event where Mohammed Salim and Jitendra Choudhury of CPM, D Raja of CPI and D P Tripathi of NCP, were also in attendance. The Shiv Sena did not send a representative to the event, despite being a key player in the protests against land acquisition in Palghar and Dahanu. Trinamool Congress MPs also did not attend the event.
An NGO named ‘National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM)’ had organised the discussion attended by protesters from Gujarat and Maharashtra’s Palghar and Dahanu.
NAPM has also published a report, ‘Bullet Train – A people’s Critique’ that questions the need for the bullet train. “The project is a clear case of collusion between capitalist interests and state power,” the report states.
Jayesh Patel of the Gujarat Khedut Samaj, a farmers’ outfit, said that the rate fixed by the state government for the acquisition of the farmers’ land was unjustified. “We have suggested that the project could take land owned by Railways, which is either along Western Railway tracks or the Dedicated Freight Corridor. They are saying the alignment cannot be altered,” he said. The group has moved Supreme Court to get interim relief.
Brian Lobo of NGO Bhoomiputra Bachao Andolan alleged that the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) was seeking land through consent and not by acquisition, since the latter involves more social welfare benefits and safeguards for land owners. The NHSRCL has denied the allegation.
NHSRCL has invited farmer groups for a dialogue next week at Dahanu, where it has been agreed that the officials will not be accompanied by police officials and that the land owners should come with an open mind.
“We have established dialogue with the people who are being affected by the project and are clarifying all their doubts. This is how land acquisition is carried out, with consent and not by force,” said Dhananjay Kumar, NHSRCL spokesman.