PAPLGHAR/MUMBAI: Almost all political parties, except the BJP, came together in support of the tribals opposing the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet train project at Palghar on Sunday.
“Shiv Sena will keep no stone unturned to see that the project doesn’t disturb the life of tribals in the district,” said Dr Nilam Gorhe, Shiv Sena spokesperson who attended all party meet on Sunday.
“Shiv Sena should soon take out a Sangharsh Yatra against the project and also raise the issue in the state legislature at Nagpur during the monsoon session which is scheduled to start on July 4,” she added.
NCP general secretary Nawab Malik and CPI general secretary Ashok Dhavale too attended the meeting along with local leaders of all political parties and the representatives of NGOs who are united under umbrella organization Bullet Train Virodhak Janmanch.
Of the total 508 km of the project, that costs approximately Rs. 98,000 crore, around 110 km of the corridor passes through Palghar district. The Indian Railways is trying to acquire 1,400 hectares of land in Maharashtra and Gujarat at Rs. 10,000 crores. However, the tribals from Palghar district are opposing the land acquisition due to which the future of the project that is considered as the pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hangs in uncertainty.
Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) first raised voice against the project about a couple of months back. The project is planned for benefit of people of Gujarat, the party had argued. They also stopped survey of land at Diva in Thane district last month.
The Shiv Sena too had gone vocal on its opposition to the project during latest Lok Sabha by-election on the Palghar seat. Though the Shiv Sena candidate lost the by-election, the party was successful in effectively taking the issue of bullet train project to people.
The opposition has grown so intense that public hearing for the project at Palghar too had to be cancelled on Saturday. This was the second time in about a month when the public hearing had to be cancelled due to protests, locals opposing the project have claimed.
Tribals from 73 villages from where the train would pass, resorted to the hunger strike at Jeevan Vikas School ground in Palghar, where the meeting was scheduled to take place, claiming that they were not informed well in advance about the meeting. Tribals also argue that they weren’t given the technical report of the project.
“The NHSRC wanted to hold the meeting for the sake of formality and did not take proper steps to publicise the meeting to discuss the environmental and social impact due to the bullet train project,” said Ramakant Patil, an activist opposing the project.
Officials of National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) stated that the stakeholders were informed well in advance and also said that they should continue their efforts to hold a public hearing. However, date and venue for the next consultative meeting were not announced by the administration.