40 new petitions in Gujarat High Court against land acquisition for bullet train project

40 new petitions in Gujarat High Court against land acquisition for bullet train project

AHMEDABAD: As many as 40 new petitions have been filed in the Gujarat High Court by farmers challenging the land acquisition process for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.nnA division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi is likely to hear the petitions on Thursday along with similar pleas submitted in June this year.nnThe 40 petitions have been filed even as four pleas of farmers from Antroli village in Surat district were withdrawn recently.nnA station for the bullet train is planned to be constructed in this village.nn”As against that withdrawal, 40 more petitions were filed by the affected farmers, and the Gujarat Khedut Samaj intends to file 200 petitions by the weekend covering more than 150 affected villages,” said Anand Yagnik, the lawyer of petitioners.nnHe said the latest petitioners hailed from Surat, Valsad and Navsari districts of south Gujarat.nnEarlier, 1,000 farmers had submitted individual affidavits in the High Court against the land acquisition process.nnIn their petitions, the 40 farmers have said that since the project extends to more than one state (Gujarat and Maharashtra), the Centre is the “appropriate government” to acquire the land for it.nnAnother contention of the petitioners is that the market value of the land has not been revised, as required under Section 26 of the Land Acquisition Act.nnThe petitioners have also challenged the Gujarat Amendment Act 2016 which tweaked the land acquisition law of 2013.nn”It (the Gujarat Amendment Act 2016) gives unbridled and unfettered powers to the state government to exempt any project in public interest from the social impact assessment (SIA),” they said.nnThe state government, in its reply, said since the width of the land to be acquired for the project is just 17.5 metres, the resettlement issues are minimal.nnThe Central government, however, is yet to file a detailed affidavit in the matter.nnThe ambitious bullet train project was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in September last year. The bullet train will run at a speed of 320-350 kmph. There will be 12 stations across the 500-km stretch.nnFor the project, around 1,400 hectares of land will be acquired in Gujarat and Maharashtra, 1,120 hectares of which is privately owned. Around 6,000 land owners will have to be compensated.nnSource: Press Trust of India

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