Bullet Train: Govt of India "no" to farmer leaders, environmentalists, local body reps in stakeholder consultations

By Our Representative
The Government of India’s special purpose vehicles (SPVs), created for the proposed Bullet Train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, is learnt to be keeping out environmental activists, experts, farmers’ representatives and local body elected representatives from participating in crucial stakeholders’ consultations, currently being held along its 300 km route in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Several civil rights leaders in a letter they have shot to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Tokyo, which is funding the project, have said, by a way of example, how “the recent announcement for the stakeholder consultations for districts of Navsari and Valsad (both in South Gujarat) specifically mentions in a published invitation in local newspapers that ‘unauthorised people would not be allowed at the consultation’.”
“We fail to understand what criteria are prescribed under JICA guidelines to segregate attending stakeholders as authorised and unauthorized”, the letter wonders, adding, “From the manner in which the stakeholder consultations are conducted it appears that these are just paper arrangements, with no serious concern to the society and environment.”
Telling JICA that ultimately these types of consultations would reflect on its reputation, the letter says, the SVPs -- National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) and the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (MAHSRCL), backed by consultants of the Bullet Train project, Arcadis  -- announce “consultations on a very short notice to the concerned stakeholders”, with “advance notice period have varied from 24 hours to few weeks.”
Newspaper ads seeking to keep out
"unauthorised" persons from consultations
Signed by a half-a-dozen civil rights leaders, the letter has been sent to Shinichi Kitaoka, president, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Tokyo, which if funding the project, with copies to its South Asia in charge Junichi Yamada, and JICA’s India representative, telling them that this “anti-people” attitude is a matter of “serious concern”. 
Signed by Krishnakant Chauhan Rohit Prajapati, Swati Desai, Parth Trivedi, Anand Mazgaonkar and Jayesh Patel, the letter insists, “There is no coherent approach to announcement of stakeholder consultations. At times they are announced for district level and sometimes they are conducted for taluka level.”
Further pointing out that “there is no clarification as to stakeholders invited to the consultation should represent on social concerns or environment”, the letter states, it seems, there is an effort to “purposely create confusion.”
According to the letter, “Two different public advertisements are published by NHRSCL at same venue and same timing, but for different purpose. In case of Environmental Consultations the Supplementary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) copies are kept for public viewing at different places which are sometimes hundreds of kms away at offices of NHRSCL.”
Noting that “the nearest place being the district collector’s office, which in some cases is about 30 kms away”, the letter says, “The supplementary EIA copies are conspicuously made available only to certain chosen districts, while in some districts there is no mention of the EIA or a copy made available for public.”
“Most of the reports are available in English language, while they should be made available in local vernacular language for the public to be able to read through and understand”, the letter states, adding, “Farmers (who are mostly illiterate or semi-literate) are disallowed to raise questions/queries.”
The letter underlines, “The queries raised during the consultations are very casually addressed and there is no written response to the submissions or oral queries raised at the consultations”, adding, “The minutes of the consultations are not made public, nor is the video documentation is made public.”

Comments

Anonymous said…
this country is becoming like a dictatorship--ask no questions and you will be told no lies; ask questions and you are putting your life at risk