The AhmedabadMumbai High Speed Rail corridor, or bullet train project, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, in September 2017. The project has been facing protests ever since.
On May 17, 2019, nearly 1,000 tribal farmers held a protest in Mumbais Azad Maidan against land acquisition for the project by the Maharashtra government. Farmers from Raigad, Thane, Nashik, Vidarbha, Konkan, Palghar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Dahanu, Gadchiroli and Nandurbar had gathered in the protest. Their primary demand was that the government should repeal a notification issued by the state governor in November 2017, which diluted the role of the Village Assemblies (gram sabhas) in infrastructure projects. This notification took away the land rights of the tribals guaranteed under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, which ensured selfgovernance through Village Assemblies for people living in Schedule V areas.
During the protest, farmers in Thane and Phalgar districts argued that the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) officials had begun conducting surveys of their land without considering their consent, despite the other Village Assemblies unanimously refusing to give away land for the project. In December 2018, people in Saphale village chased away surveyors of the NHSRC.
In February 2019, the project received the wildlife clearance, which allowed it to encroach upon the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary (TCFS) and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai. The project involves diverting 3.2 hectares of forestland from the TCFS and 97.5 hectares of land close to the boundary of the national park. Throughout the state, the project would require land to be acquired from 108 villages.
The Maharashtra government now plans to invoke Section 96 of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, to compulsorily take over the remaining land for the project, which is stuck after the local people objected to a pricebased, private negotiation acquisition earlier.
The state government also plans to put in place a new compensation policy for land owners, giving up to four times the existing land rate in rural areas and twice that of the existing rate in urban areas.
The original deadline to start the bullet train service was 2023 but it was later advanced by a year to August 15, 2022, to mark 75 years of Indias independence.
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