NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Tuesday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in the way farmers’ land was being acquired for the prestigious Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project.
In a letter addressed to the PM, Patel, the Rajya Sabha MP expressed concerns over land acquisition being undertaken for the rail corridor by the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) and the district officials in violation of the law passed in 2013 during the reign of the UPA government.
“For long, the rights of farmers and farm labourers over agricultural land were being trampled upon by large and powerful interests,” Patel said in his letter, adding that land must be acquired under the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and not under its modified version cleared by the Gujarat government.
Patel said public consultation process for those whose land needs to be acquired is being conducted in a manner contrary to what is “mandated in the Act, adding further that provisions like obligatory consent of the farmers and social impact assessment have been discarded in the new law approved by the Gujarat government.
“Farmers have opposed the process of land acquisition before the authority. Our objective is not to obstruct the project the government is undertaking. But in the process of building a bullet train, we can’t bulldoze the constitutional rights of farmers,” Patel said in the letter.
Earlier, former PM Manmohan Singh had criticised the bullet train project, dubbing it as as “exercise in vanity”, and said the government’s “priorities are misplaced” as it should have focused on the existing passenger rail network.