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Bullet train project ignores environmental, social impact: Gujarat environmentalists tell JICA

By Our Representative
Gujarat’s top environmentalists, belonging to the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, in a representation before the main funders of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project, Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Surat, where they were called for a meeting, have said that the bullet train project violates JICA guidelines on environmental and social impacts of the project.
Raising three main issues before JICA officials, Rohit Prajapati, Kriashakant and Swati Desai sought answer as to why was the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is absent during public consultations in Gujarat and Maharashtra, where the project is being implemented, while a foreign government agency is participating in it.
Insisting that the ongoing consultation accepts the need for environmental concerns, they queried, “Why environment laws of India and MoEFCC have no role in the process?”, adding, “Are the MoEFCC and environment laws of the land mortgaged to JICA?”
Rohit Prajapati and others with JICA officials in Surat
Providing an analysis they have carried out of the project, the environmentalists said that even the Parliamentary Committee on Railways (2014-15) had opined that the bullet train project is financially unviable, wondering why is the project being implement, and “at what and whose cost, and for whom?”
They said, “As you know such projects are concerns not only the project affected local people but all global citizens. We must uphold the universal human rights and principles and laws related to environmental protection and social justice.”
Asking JICA officials to “thoroughly review all the procedures and our concerns”, the environmentalists said, “It is imperative now that you take stringent and prompt action to redress violations and address the concerns completely, transparently, and promptly. Do inform us of the actions you have taken and would now take as well as the results of the same so that we can decide our next course of action.”

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