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Gujarat Farmers Seek Meeting With Japan PM to Brief Him on 'Illegal' Land Acquisition for Bullet Train

Claiming "flagrant violation" of the conditions of the contract between India and Japan, the farmers have alleged that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is not acting as per the laws of that country.

PTI

Updated:October 1, 2018, 7:06 PM IST
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Gujarat Farmers Seek Meeting With Japan PM to Brief Him on 'Illegal' Land Acquisition for Bullet Train
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe. (Getty Images)
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Ahmedabad: Farmers affected by the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project are planning to take the issue of "illegal acquisition of land" to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Claiming "flagrant violation" of the conditions of the contract between India and Japan, the farmers have alleged that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is not acting as per the laws of that country.

JICA has extended soft loan of around Rs 88,000 crore to the Indian government for the ambitious project that envisages connecting Mumbai with Ahmedabad by the bullet train.

The project is said to be close to the heart of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

However, farmers falling in the alignment zone for the bullet train in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, have been opposing the acquisition of land. Many farmers in Gujarat have already approached the high court against the land acquisition process.

The farmer representatives said Monday that they have sought appointments with Abe and Japanese leader of opposition Yukio Edano "to brief them about the issues affecting the farmers".

They said they wanted to "raise questions about the impartiality of JICA in India, as the social and environmental guidelines are being violated flagrantly".

"We are planning to travel to Japan where we will hold press conferences in five cities, including Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagashaki. We will raise various issues pertaining to acquisition of land for the bullet train project," said Anand Yagnik, the lawyer of farmers who have approached the HC.

He said farmers have written to Abe and Edano stating that the acquisition of land has been adversely affecting the "statutory and constitutional rights" of the farmers. "They (Japanese leaders) are provided with evidences about the arbitrary nature of acquisition of land which is contrary to the JICA guidelines," Yagnik said.

Despite receiving representation from 1000 farmers affected by the project, JICA is not acting as per the laws of Japan, the farmers have claimed. "We have also told them (Japanese leaders) how JICA itself is violating the terms and conditions by not responding to the representation from farmers. A team of experts need to hear the grievances of farmers despite the farmers stating that the acquisition is leading to their involuntary displacement," he said.

Yagnik said that farmers are also contemplating legal action against JICA through his counterparts in Japan.

The project was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart in September last year. The bullet train will run at a speed of 320-350 kmph. It will have 12 stations across the 500-km stretch between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

For 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.

Many farmers in Gujarat have filed petitions in the High Court challenging the land acquisition process for the project.
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