High-speed train: The Supreme Court of Gujarat rejects farmers' opposition to land acquisition
AHMEDABAD: The ambitious project, which received full approval on Thursday, was rejected for rejecting over 100 applications from farmers who questioned the land acquisition process and demanded higher compensation.
A Bank of Justice Anant Dave and Justice rejected the challenge to land for the 508 km long high-speed train project Ahmedabad-Mumbai National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd. to acquire.
The HC stated that the Gujarat's 2016 amendment to the center was valid. It also confirmed the Center's gesture of delegating executive power to the state of Gujarat to acquire land, even though it is a multi-state project. The retrospective rise of the president to this power delegation is legal, so that Gujarat's notification and land acquisition process without power is also valid in the initial phase.
The HK further said that the state obeys the provisions of the Central Act on Compulsory Social Impact Assessment and Rehabilitation and Resettlement before all projects are legal. Therefore, Gujarat's notification without SIA was not inappropriate.
The Supreme Court found that the SIA process performed as part of the JICA High Speed Project was adequate and satisfactory.
With regard to the remuneration aspect, the HC offered farmers the option of presenting a compensation package offered in other projects in order to claim higher compensation.
Of nearly 6,900 farmers affected by the project, nearly 60% object to the land acquisition process. They will now appeal to the Supreme Court, said Anand Yagnik, advocate for farmers, after the HC verdict.
Last year, five landowners from the Surat district made their first petition challenging the legitimacy of the land acquisition report issued by the state government. They argued that the state government had no authority to acquire land because the 508 km high-speed train line was a multi-state project and only the central government could issue the notification.
These five petitioners withdrew, but hundreds of other farmers from various districts in southern and central Gujarat turned to the HC and challenged the changes made by Gujarat in the 2013 Land Purchase Act.
During the hearing, there were nearly 1,000 farmers who submitted a unilateral affidavit to the HC that they had not agreed to the land acquisition process and insisted that the compensation should be calculated according to the Central Government's Land Purchase Act by assessing the social and economic impact of the project to those affected. They also insisted that the compensation should be based on the current market value of the land and not by calculation, taking into account the rates applicable in 2011.
The center, though the railroads, defended the power of the provincial government to acquire land, and said that it delegated power to the state with the rise of the president.