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JICA hands over crucial bullet train report to Gujarat farmers, denied by Govt of India

JICA India office chief meeting farmers' representatives in Ahmedabad 
By Rajiv Shah
Chief representative of Japan International Co-operation Agency’s (JICA) India office Katsuo Matsumoto, who visited the office of senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik in Ahmedabad on August 30, has handed over a crucial report it had prepared on its December 8-9, 2018 meeting with Gujarat and Maharashtra farmers, affected by the high-profile Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, as also senior activists.
JICA, a Japanese government agency, is funding the proposed bullet train, considered a prestige project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It handed over the report to the Government of India’s special purpose vehicle, National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd (NHSRCL), set up to implement the project. However, NHSRCL refused to make it public, saying it was a JICA “property” despite farmers’ repeated pleas.
The report, among other things, gives a detailed representation by Gujarat and Maharashtra farmers’ representatives, even as visiting sites in villages Amodpore in Navasari district, Ghildoi in Vaslad district and Kathor in Surat district, where about 500 farmers would be affected.
The common complaints of the farmers, according to the report, was that their lands were being “divided in two-three parts due to acquisition”, as a result of which the value of land of balance parcels “would go down”, creating “difficulties in irrigation and access for the farmer.”
Further, the report says, quoting farmers, that the “difference between jantri rate/circle rate (government rate of land for a particular area) and the market rate is 10 times”, and “compensation as per jantri rate at some spots is is Rs 22 lakh as against the market rate of Rs 2 crore.
As for Maharashtra, the report says, gram sabhas representatives of Palghat told that JICA team they had “denied permission and passed resolution stating that they are not in support of land acquisition and the project”, because it would “not benefit the people of the area, leading to land alienation, affects livelihood etc.”
The report also says, farmers apprehended they would not be able to utilize 30 metres plus row on both sides of the rail alignment, and though it would be utilized for future private development, “no compensation is offered for this portion.” Further, land is currently used for multiple crops and tree plantations, which yield after many years, yet “no compensation is offered” for this.
Then, the farmers complained that there would be “displacement of tribal agricultural workers”, as “no compensation” is being paid them, adding, before starting the land acquisition process, they were given just a couple of days for consultation instead of the “requirement of one month prior notice.” Further, notices and information shared in English, a language farmers could not comprehend.
Before handing over the report, JICA officials held a meeting, lasting for two hours, with Yagnik, Jayesh Patel, president, Gujarat Khedut Samaj (GKS), and two affected farmers, where the top JICA official is learnt to have accepted three fundamental  proposal of farmers:
  1. That by JICA's own guidelines and un-amended 2013 legislation, affected farmers and non-farmers must get compensation not at the rate of 2011 jantri but at the market rate of 2018-19 that must be revised.
  2. That social impact assessment under Indian laws must be undertaken so as to understand the impact of bullet train project, something the Gujarat government and the Government of India refused to do. 
  3. And that R&R of project affected people (PAPs) must take place as per JICA guidelines and the un-amended land acquisition Act, 2013 and provisions with regard to R&R entitlements should be adhered to
A note forwarded by Yagnik on the meeting said, JICA officials agreed that social impact assessment (SIA) under Indian laws must be undertaken so as to “understand the impact of bullet train project”, and a rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) of project affected people (PAPs) must be take place as per JICA guidelines and the un-amended land acquisition Act, 2013.
The JICA official was told that South Gujarat farmers affected by the project had “preferred” etitions before the Gujarat High Court challenging the land acquisition process initiated for the bullet train project.
JICA accepted a fundamental farmers' demand – that they be compensated in accordance with the “un-amended" land acquisition Act, 2013, based on 2018-19 market rate 
At the same time, the note said, “incidental and ancillary issues” were raised before the JICA official “concerning the dilution of beneficial provisions of the Central land acquisition law by the state to the disadvantage of the farmers/landowners in order to implement the vanity project of bullet train.”
The note said, a thousand farmers had filed affidavits before the Gujarat High Court opposing the project, which is currently “pending delivery of judgment” and is “sub judice”, regretting, despite this, land acquisition for the project is being carried by by the government and NHSRCL “continued unabated” so as to “frustrate the rights of the affected landowners and farmers.”
As no corrective steps were taken by NHSRCL, the note said, Yagnik wrote to JICA in August 2019 on behalf of farmers seeking a copy of the report submitted to NHSRCL and steps taken by NHSRCL on it.
The note said, Yagnik and the farmers’ representatives told the JICA official that farmers’ grievances revolved around failure to do proper SIA, lack of provision for R&R entitlements and determination of compensation as per the present market value, guaranteed under the Central land acquisition Act, 2013, all of which was being sought to be scuttled by the state government.
The meeting ended with the JICA official submitted a copy of the report it had prepared and submitted to N, the note said, adding, the official “assured” that farmers’ fundamental grievances should be redressed before implementing the bullet train project.
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Click HERE for JICA report submitted to NHSRCL 

Comments

Uma said…
Say what you want, Modi is not going to give up on this project
Anonymous said…
I want Market rate value
Otherwise we will not give this land
JAY said…
We want Market value otherwise we will not give our land

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